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People Who Eat Darkness:

The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo—and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up

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A New York Times Bestseller

New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction, 2012

A New York Times Editor’s Choice

A 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee for Best Fact Crime

A 2012 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction

A 2012 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction

A 2012 Slate Magazine Best Book: Staff Pick

A 2012 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Nonfiction

A 2012 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book for Nonfiction

A BookPage Book of the Day, June 2012

An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2012

Lucie Blackman—tall, blond, twenty-one years old—stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000 and disappeared. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, and Lucie’s desperate but bitterly divided parents. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work as a hostess in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo really involve?

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, followed the case from the beginning. Over the course of a decade, as the rest of the world forgot but the trial dragged on, he traveled to four continents to interview those connected with the story, assiduously followed the court proceedings, and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. Ultimately he earned the respect of the victim’s family and delved deep into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime—Joji Obara, described by the judge as “unprecedented and extremely evil.” The result is a book at once thrilling and revelatory.

Editorial Reviews

“A masterpiece of writing this surely is, but it is more than that—it is a committed, compassionate, courageous act of journalism that changes the way we think. Everyone who has ever loved someone and held that life dear should read this stunning book, and shiver.”

Chris Cleave, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Little Bee

“I opened this book as a skeptic. I am not a lover of true crime…But Richard Lloyd Parryʼs remarkable examination of [this] crime—what it revealed about Japanese society and how it unsettled conventional notions of bereavement—elevates his book above the genre. People Who Eat Darkness is a searing exploration of evil and trauma and how both ultimately elude understanding or resolution…Just as the grief of Blackman’s parents is unassaugeable, Obara and his motives are unknowable. That is the darkness at the heart of this book, one Lloyd Parry conveys with extraordinary effect and emotion…People Who Eat Darkness is a fascinating mediation that does not pretend to offer pat answers to obscene mysteries.”

New York Times Book Review

“[A] masterful literary true crime story, which earns its comparisons to Truman Capoteʼs In Cold Blood and Norman Mailerʼs The Executioner’s Song…Like the case of Etan Patz, the Lucie Blackman disappearance captured the public imagination. By writing about it in such culturally informed detail, Parry subtly encourages an understanding that goes past the headlines. It is a dark, unforgettable ride.”

Los Angeles Times

“A big, ambitious true-crime book in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.


London Times Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief Parry…offers an exceptional—and terrifying—account of sexual sadism, the Japanese legal system, and a family ripped apart by tragedy…Parry discovered a side of Japan he hadn’t known; his Tokyo thrums with energy, and the long-dead Lucie haunts the page as her killer fills the reader’s consciousness with an undeniable sense of dread.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“This true crime tale reads like a novel, but few of its fictional counterparts have this much insight into murder cases and the psychology of the people involved…Parry’s prose is reminiscent of true crime greats Truman Capote and Vincent Bugliosi. This well-written story, likely to elicit tears and even nightmares from readers, is recommended for all who enjoy true crime, thrillers, and cross-cultural narratives.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“Parry has a knack of tacitly cross-examining his readers…not implicating them exactly, but immersing them in a darkness that thickens as facts come to light…[He] skillfully manipulates the narrative to keep the reader in a state of awful uncertainty about what will happen next.”

Observer (London)

“An utterly compelling read.”

Mo Hayder, internationally bestselling author

“Extraordinary, compulsive, and brilliant.”

David Peace, author of the Red Riding quartet and the Tokyo trilogy 

“For fans of true crime and slowly unfolding mysteries.”

Kirkus Reviews

People Who Eat Darkness is the fascinating culmination of a decade of research, as well as a probing look into the depths of evil…Parry masterfully guides readers through a maze of red herrings and sinister subplots…It would be wrong to call this book ‘enjoyable.’ But it is both utterly engrossing and brilliantly crafted—a glimpse into the heart of darkness we hope never to know firsthand.”


Author Biography

Richard Lloyd Parry is the Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of the London Times and the author of In the Time of Madness.

Reader Biography

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.

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