A young writer arrives at a prison to interview a convict. The writer has been commissioned to write a full account of the case, from the bizarre and grisly details of the crime to the nature of the man behind it. The suspect, a world-renowned photographer named Kiharazaka, has a deeply unsettling portfolio—lurking beneath the surface of each photograph is an acutely obsessive fascination with his subject.
He stands accused of murdering two women—both burned alive—and will likely face the death penalty. But something isn’t quite right. As the young writer probes further, his doubts about this man as a killer intensify, and he struggles to maintain his sense of reason and justice. Is Kiharazaka truly guilty, or will he die to protect someone else?
Evoking Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s “Hell Screen,” Fuminori Nakamura has crafted a dark and twisting house of mirrors that philosophically explores the violence of aesthetics and the horrors of identity, asking a deceptively sinister question: Is it possible to truly capture the essence of another human being?
I subscribe to the Soho Press newsletter and when I received an email letting me know about Last Winter We Parted I took notice. The premise was interesting so I decided to request a review copy from Edelweiss and I’m glad I did as this book had me hooked like no other in quite some time. Sure I’ve read great books but one that I have fallen asleep reading because I would not put it down, that is new.
It starts of simple with an author visiting a convicted killer to get the scoop so he can write a book on the killings, the killer a talented photographer who has been convicted of burning two women to death. A hard one to discuss without giving too much away but a mesmerising tale of not what it seems and who is who. As the writer delves deeper, the rabbit hole gets curious and curiouser. A dark and twisted tale that I simply did not want to put down. I was mesmerised. Brilliant read though there is a section in about the last third of the book where who’s point of view we’re getting is not at all clear. Part of the mystery yes but highly confusing. Did not matter though as I raced through this story till the heart stopping did not see that coming ending.
Highly recommended Japanese literary mystery. I shall be looking further into the authors other books.
Last Winter We Parted will be released in October and is available for pre-order