Book review: 『切り裂きジャックの告白』by Shichiri Nakayama

切り裂きジャックの告白(きりさきジャックのこくはく)
Title: 切り裂きジャックの告白(きりさきジャックのこくはく)
First published: 2013
Published: 2014
Publisher:
Format: Bunko
Series Number: 1
Page Count: 355
東京都内の公園で臓器をすべてくり抜かれた若い女性の死体が発見された。やがてテレビ局に“ジャック”と名乗る犯人から声明文が送りつけられる。その直後、今度は川越で会社帰りのOLが同じ手口で殺害された。被害者2人に接点は見当たらない。怨恨か、無差別殺人か。捜査一課のエース犬養刑事が捜査を進めると、被害者の共通点としてある人物の名前が浮上した―。ジャックと警察の息もつかせぬ熾烈な攻防がはじまる!

Shichiri Nakayama is a prolific author of crime fiction. 『切り裂きジャックの告白』is the first novel to introduce the police detective Hayato Inukai (犬養隼人).

Setting

The novel is exactly about what its title refers to: a serial killer who calls himself “Jack”, murders similar to those of Jack the Ripper, a police investigation to find the killer.

But there is also more in this novel than a simple chase of the murderer. The story addresses the topic of organ donation and transplantation and contains several discussions on this topic.

Review

First of all, I found all the debates and thoughts surrounding the medical and ethical aspects of organ donation both interesting and difficult to read. This book was definitely not an easy read, both because of its topic and its language level. There was a good amount of vocabulary I had to look up, especially all the medical terms. For example, there is scene that describes how organs are removed from a donor, and needless to say that it was full of specialised terms that I was not familiar with.

While I found the debates around organ donation interesting, I also found that they were sometimes artificially introduced in the novel. For example, one of the characters would watch a television debate, and the author just transcribe this debate. I like when a novel contains ethical questions, but I don’t like when it is artificially introduced in the story. In 『切り裂きジャックの告白』, I sometimes felt that the whole police investigation was a pretext to talk about organ donation and transplantation, and the pace of the story was often broken by considerations on this topic.

These are the books that the author consulted to write his novel. Sometimes it felt that the author read a lot about this topic and wanted to put as much knowledge as possible in his novel.

As for the investigation in itself, I found it good but not very suspenseful. Maybe too realistic? I didn’t really feel the thrill of hunting down a murderer (which is certainly the reason why we read such books…?), but it was still interesting to see how the investigation is conducted, how the media are involved and so on.

Last but not least, while this novel is the first of the Hayato Inukai series, I don’t feel that I really know this character. Strangely, all the other characters were well portrayed, but I found that Hayato Inukai was a little insipid.

Despite all these criticisms, I did enjoy the book. I think that the book’s value mostly lies in its topic (organ donation), so if you are interested in this question, you will certainly find this book interesting. However, if you are looking for a suspenseful thriller, there might be better options…