My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a hard review to write, because if I was just reviewing the main ‘gotta find the killer’ storyline, it would get a 4-4.5, but if I was just reviewing the characters and the world building and the side plots, this would easily get a 2.
The murder mystery itself is very intriguing, there are amazing plot twists that I never saw coming, there are red herrings that I really thought were legitimate leads, and the way the story builds and goes into all these intricate twists and turns keeps you deeply invested all along.
However, the book has some serious ‘wtf’ issues that I’m gonna address further under a read more to avoid spoilers, this is the TL;DR version:
Basically, this book had a good story but character content that was severely over the top at best and disturbingly problematic at worst.
I would recommend it to those who are forewarned going in that the story is great but the backstory and side plots are so over the top and weird that the non-main-plot stuff is just flat out bad.
The main character in this book has an interesting backstory to an extent, but it reaches a point where you’re just like ‘oh come on, seriously???’ You know how you’ve probably read crime novels and the cops are always seriously messed up people with horrific things that happened to them? This one takes basically everything you have read before and combined them all to have happened to this one guy. You get to a point where you’re like ‘Seriously???’ because it’s insane. His mom abandoned him when he was a small child, his best friend at the orphanage was in love with him and then died/was killed/disappeared/killed himself (Never sure, don’t think it matters) after telling him, he clearly has lingering issues with his closeted bisexuality, he’s an alcoholic, he’s massively traumatized, and these things exist because he slept with his partner’s wife and his own wife went insane and murdered their baby.
… seriously??? ALL of this happened to one guy? Was that necessary? I mean, you could at least just pick one or two of those things to happen, the whole gamut seems like serious overkill.
Speaking of, there’s never any point where his weird issues with his sexuality is addressed. He randomly has sex with a male prostitute at a bathhouse and we’re all like ‘what?!’ and then we find out about his adolescent sexual incident with his best friend at the orphanage, so it kind of makes sense, but the connection seems very tenuous at best.
Also, the biggest sex-related ‘what the eff?!’ is the part where his partner, Sakai, flat out rapes him. She raped him. Like, I’m not even sure that wasn’t him having a dream of some sort since it was never addressed ever again, and seemed to serve no purpose to the plot, but that entire scene made no sense. We know why he was there, but why were they both naked in bed together? It doesn’t seem to be implied that they had sex before. He seems confused to see her naked beside him also he is surprised by the bruises on her body, suggesting he hasn’t seen her naked already, and even if they did have sex before, she still straight up raped the guy. She wakes up, crawls onto his lap, he says ‘stop this’, she rides him until she finishes, then gets off and goes back to sleep. That is the entire interaction. At no point did he consent, in fact he said ‘no’, and she didn’t listen. That is the textbook definition of rape and I don’t understand why that scene had any relevance or purpose.
I do not like gratuitous rape scenes and that is exactly what this was. It doesn’t matter it was a woman and he’s a man, she still raped him. It’s rape. I legitimately almost stopped reading there but I had hopes it would eventually come back into play in the plot, but it never did. Neither he nor Sakai ever mention that ever again.