Book review: 『アンカー』by Bin Konno

アンカー
Title: アンカー
Genre:
First published: 2017
Published: 2020
Format: Bunko
Series Number: 4
Page Count: 400
嗅覚の報道記者×執念のベテラン刑事十年前に起きた大学生刺殺事件。未解決事件の継続捜査が動き出すが──。大人気 累計50万部突破スクープシリーズ第4弾! 報道番組『ニュースイレブン』の名物記者・布施は、十年前に起きた大学生刺殺の未解決事件に関心を寄せる。この継続捜査を、警視庁特命捜査対策室の刑事・黒田が担当することになるが、謎は深まるばかり。一方、番組の視聴率低迷を受け、関西の系列局から栃本という男が送り込まれた現場には、不穏な空気が漂い始める。報道の本質とは何か。そして、事件の意外な真相とは。スクープシリーズ第4弾!

Introduction

Title: 『アンカー』(Anchor)
Author: Bin Konno (今野敏)
Published by 集英社文庫

This is the fourth book in the series “Scoop” (スクープシリーズ). The series features the staff of the news desk 『ニュース・イレブン』, the journalist Fuse who always seems to come up with scoops, and detectives who work with Fuse.

Review

There is something that has always bothered me when it comes to series in crime fiction. There are some series where you can pick any book and enjoy it, you can start where you want, and you don’t need to have read the previous ones to enjoy the story. On the contrary, there are series where you should read them in order, often because the returning characters evolve from book to book and you won’t be able to fully enjoy the story if you don’t know them.

The problem is that you rarely know in which category you are when you start a series. This is why I always try to start with the first one no matter what. I made an exception with 『アンカー』and I really regret it because I just could not enjoy the story nor feel the least interest for the characters’ struggles.

You don’t strictly need to have read the first three books of the story to follow this one because it has an independent murder case in it. But half, if not more, of the story is devoted to discussions and problems among the staff of 『ニュース・イレブン』and I found each one of them extremely boring.

I guess that you are expected to know the characters, because they are not described in this book. Even at the end, I could only have a rough idea of who they were, how they lived, why they think like they did and so on. If you have already read 3 books that feature the staff of 『ニュース・イレブン』, you certainly care about them, but if you start with 『アンカー』, it is very hard to feel even remotely involved.

As for the murder case and the investigation, I found that it was scarcely satisfying for the reader. There is not much going on in terms of investigation, and the end is rather abrupt and not satisfactory. If you took all the passages were the investigation progresses or when the police officers actually do something and compress it, you will end up with something very short. It feels like reading only 50 pages of a detective novel and then realise that your book is already over.

What bothered me the most is that there are endless repetitions of the same discussions. It looked like the same discussion happened again and again, but with different characters (or even sometimes, the same characters). The staff of 『ニュース・イレブン』would debate about the role of television, the evolution of media and habits of people, ethical questions about what the program is or should be, and so on. It was not uninteresting at first, but it happens again and again. Similarly, discussions as to whether to report on the case during the program or not happened several times. It was the same when police officers were involved.

To sum up, all the passages that focus on 『ニュース・イレブン』were uninteresting to me. The murder investigation was superficial and there were countless repetitions. The only thing that is great in this novel is that it reads very quickly and effortlessly. There are a lot of dialogues, and you end up turning 10 or 20 pages without realising it. As a consequence, I read this book relatively quickly, and I never thought of giving it up, even though I was frustrated by the story most of the time.

I do think that the book has flaws in itself (like the numerous repetitions), but you certainly enjoy it more if you have read the whole series. Unfortunately, 『アンカー』did not make me want to touch the スクープシリーズ again…

Other books by this author:
継続捜査ゼミ (けいぞくそうさぜみ)