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).
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.
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.
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…