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People Who Eat Darkness – Book Review

PEOPLEWHOEATDARKNESS * By: Richard Lloyd Parry *

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Girox, New York, www.fsgbooks.com *

Copyright: 2012, ISBN: [0374230593] *

Cover: Abby Kagan *

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, June 19, 2013 *

* Summary: Murder in a foreign land and the strange culture of Japan. Better than Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD? PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS is on an entirely different level where the facts are the facts and the ambience is weaved from the tightly drawn threads of two societies. *

First, the crime. *

In May 2000, Lucie Blackman and her best friend, Louise Phillips, left their native England via Heathrow Airport and arrived at Japan’s Narita Airport. Upon arriving in Japan, the pair eventually settled in an entertainment district of Tokyo known as Roppongi (a place with the motto, according to the author, “High Touch Town”). By July 2000, Lucie had disappeared from the face of the earth.

Author Richard Parry’s treatment of Lucie Blackman’s murder is like a photographer with a zoom lens, constantly adjusting focus. While most true crime books focus on the victim or the perpetrator, Parry zooms out far enough to give us the social morass in which the crime takes place. Parry brings a unique qualification to this task by being the Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of the London TIMES. His treatment of the crime leaves a slightly queasy feeling about our “civilized” societies. A twenty-one year old woman leaves home for a foreign land to find a way to pay off her debts; a forty-eight year old businessman spends thirty years as a serial rapist, treating women as disposable objects. Stepping back from these transient circumstances which brought these two totally different people together, we find two dysfunctional families with just enough buoyancy to maintain a semblance of “normal” for their time and place.

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Devil in the Grove – Book Review

devilinthegroveBy: Gilbert King

Publisher: Harper Perennial, HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright: 2012, ISBN: [0061792226]

Cover: Robin Bilardello, State Archives of Florida

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, June 13, 2013

 

Summary:  Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America. A snippet in the life of Thurgood Marshall as head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and the dismantling of segregation laws in the United States.

 

You cannot read this book without thinking of Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mocking Bird, published in 1960.  Lee’s work was fiction essentially detailing the extremes to which irrational fears can drive people. It employs the view of a child to show how society has erected boundaries in an attempt to control and defeat those irrational fears. King’s DEVIL IN THE GROVE is history, detailing the same irrational fears and attempts at implementation of boundaries to control it.  King’s book also makes you pause to consider current events.  The media frenzied discussions about privacy and the threat of privacy invasion by the government is an issue about boundaries—justifiable fears and irrational fears. There is something deeply reassuring in the American legal system presented by King and his exploration of Thurgood Marshall as an agent of the fence or, as it is more commonly called, the law.  Our legal system is slow. It is messy. It is frustratingly inept at immediately addressing wrongs. But unlike any other system of government in the world, the U. S. strives toward justice, recognizing the supremacy of the individual over the state. The nation has not yet reached that goal.  It is trying and, if the “experiment” is not defeated by the one-percent, or the perpetually frightened, it will continue to try. That assessment comes from the broad sweep of American history.

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