A young insurance saleswoman is found strangled at Mitsuse Pass. Her family and friends are shocked and terrified. The pass—which tunnels through a mountainous region of southern Japan—has an eerie history: a hideout for robbers, murderers, and ghostly creatures lurking at night.
Soon afterward, a young construction worker becomes the primary suspect. As the investigation unfolds, the events leading up to the murder come darkly into focus, revealing a troubled cast of characters: the victim, Yoshino, a woman much too eager for acceptance; the suspect, Yuichi, a car enthusiast misunderstood by everyone around him; the victim’s middle-aged father, a barber disappointed with his life; and the suspect’s aging grandmother, who survived the starvation of postwar Japan only to be tormented by local gangsters. And, finally, there is desperate Mitsuyo, the lonely woman who finds Yuichi online and makes the big mistake of falling for him.
A stunningly dark thriller and a tapestry of noir, Villain is the English-language debut for Shuichi Yoshida, one of Japan’s most acclaimed and accomplished writers. From desolate seaside towns and lighthouses to love hotels and online chat rooms, Villain reveals the inner lives of men and women who all have something to hide. Part police procedural, part gritty realism, Villain is a coolly seductive story of loneliness and alienation in the southernmost reaches of Japan.
Yoshida examines the lives of a victim and a killer in this subtle but powerful novel about collective guilt and individual atonement, his first book to appear in English translation. The police arrest Yuichi Shimizu, a 27-year-old construction worker from Nagasaki, for strangling Yoshino Ishibashi, an insurance saleswoman, with whom he'd gone on a couple of dates. Moving skillfully back and forth from the crime to its aftermath, Yoshida describes Ishibashi's boring job in Fukuoka, her fantasy dates and online boyfriends, as well as Shimizu's existence in Nagasaki, where he cares for his ailing grandfather and grandmother, and lavishes his attentions on his fancy white car. Multiple points of view reveal both slight and dramatic changes in a host of other people, including acquaintances and relatives, affected by the murder. Most impressively, Yoshida's complex portrait of Japanese society leaves no doubt as to his characters' actions, but tantalizing doubts about their meaning.