Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Devil's Whisper

Miyuki Miyabe. The Devil's Whisper. Translated by Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi. NY: Kodansha International, 2007 (first published in Japan in 1989).

R. Stuhr

Revenge is at the heart of this mystery by popular and prolific Japanese author Miyuke Miyabe. Mamoru is a young man who lives with his aunt and uncle after his mother dies. His father disappeared years before after being accused of embezzling his employer. Mamoru lives under the cloud of his father's wrong doing. In the meantime, several young women have inexplicably committed suicide. All of them knew each other and one from their group still survives but fears for her life. Mamoru's uncle, a taxi cab driver, is the unwitting accomplice in the third young woman's death when she runs out in front of his cab. Mamoru, wanting to clear his uncle's name, sets out to investigate her death. He finds out that the three women were involved, along with a fourth, in a scam to woo lonely men with the aim of taking their money. Through his diligent investigation, now as interested in saving the fourth woman as well as restoring his uncle's reputation, Mamoru stumbles onto the mastermind or sorcer, Harasawa, behind the deaths of the three women. The murder's motivation is revenge.

At the same time as Mamoru is coming closer to solve the crime, a prominent businessman, Yoshitake, claims to have witnessed the accident. His testimony absolves Mamoru's uncle of any guilt. Mamoru discovers that the businessman has his reasons for coming to the aid of Mamoru's family, reasons that do not sit comfortably with Mamoru. Mamoru becomes better acquainted with the Harasawa and learns how he has compelled the three women to their deaths. Harasawa offers Mamoru the means to exact his own revenge. Mamoru must now decide whether he is a person capable of murder or can he be a person who can forgive wrongdoings. Harasawa finds ways to try to persuade Mamoru to his way of thinking even after his death.

The intricate plot of this novel pits two tormented souls seeking revenge against tormented souls begging to be absolved for their crimes. Mamoru, however, knows their is another way, and he is surrounded by friends and family who care about him, and who may possibly bring out his better side. Gramps, who teaches Mamoru to pick locks, is also the strongest influence on Mamoru not to use these skills in a criminal way. He is telling Mamoru that he trust him to do the right thing even when he has the means to do the wrong thing. It is this trust that Mamoru strives to live up to and that may save his soul.

Other books by Miyako Miyabe
Crossfire PL856.I856 K8713 2005
Shadow Family PL856.I856 R213 2004
All She Was Worth PL856.E856 K3713 1999

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