“Exceedingly creepy . . . The diabolically gifted British author spins a fascinating mystery from the legacy of Japanese atrocities during World War II.” —Entertainment Weekly
With the redolent atmosphere of Ian Rankin and the spine-chilling characters of Thomas Harris, Mo Hayder’s The Devil of Nanking takes the reader on an electrifying literary ride from the palatial apartments of yakuza kingpins to deep inside the secret history of one of the twentieth century’s most brutal events: the Nanking Massacre.
A young Englishwoman obsessed with an indecipherable past, Grey comes to Tokyo seeking a lost piece of film footage of the notorious 1937 Nanking Massacre, footage some say never existed. Only one man can help Grey. A survivor of the massacre, he is now a visiting professor at a university in Tokyo. But he will have nothing to do with her.
So Grey accepts a job in an upmarket nightspot, where a certain gangster may be the key to gaining the professor’s trust. An old man in a wheelchair surrounded by a terrifying entourage, the gangster is rumored to rely on a mysterious elixir for his continued health. Taut, gritty, sexy, and harrowing, The Devil of Nanking is an incomparable literary thriller set in one of the world’s most fascinating cities—Tokyo—from an internationally bestselling author.
“A haunting, lyrical, disturbing, important, suspenseful, wonderfully written and beautiful book.” —Harlan Coben
From its start in 1937, as the Japanese overrun the Chinese port of Nanking and massacre hundreds of thousands, to its narrative core in 1990, as a disturbed young British woman who calls herself Grey searches for the hidden truths that made her the mentally fragile person she is, Hayder's third book (after 2002's The Treatment) is a thriller of rare art and gripping excitement. Hayder, one of the rising stars of British crime fiction, teaches at a university in Bath and has worked as a hostess in a Tokyo nightclub. Both experiences add to her book's unusually rich atmosphere. Grey, who lives on the fringes of the academic world, tries to find out in Tokyo whether a piece of 16mm film taken during the Nanking atrocities actually exists and whether it will ease her pain. When an elderly Chinese professor, a survivor of Nanking, at first refuses to help her, she drifts into a well-paying job as a night club hostess. (Russian twin sisters Irina and Svetlana teach her the tricks of the trade. "You gotta look sophisticated," Svetlana tells her earnestly. "You wanna wear my belt, eh? My belt is gold. Black and gold nice!") Eventually, the story becomes a beautifully paced, three-way duel among an aged Japanese gangster who wants to live forever; the Chinese professor, with secrets too horrible to hide any longer; and Grey, a courageous young woman unlike any other heroine you're likely to find in a thriller.