Translated from Japanese by Alison Watts
The flat is all but empty, and the man and woman, who are going their separate ways, decide to spend the final night talking. Aki and Hiro have unfinished business to discuss. Their relationship broke down following a hiking trip which ended when their guide died, and each came back believing the other had murdered him. Each intends to get the other to confess.
So, like the fish swimming around the other on the book cover, they circle waiting for the opportune moment to extract the confession. The dappled sunlight in the title refers, I suppose, to the glimmers of truth that penetrate at sporadic intervals into the murkiness of their pond. This is not just about the guide’s demise. To say more would be to spoil Onda’s carefully constructed plot and cascade of revelations.
Aki and Hiro tell their shared story in alternating chapters. Thus the reader experiences the intensity of the psychological duel from both sides and breathes a sigh of relief when the moment of resolution arrives. Which is not what anyone is expecting – least of all Aki and Hiro.
The journey from evening to morning is a long one, involving suppressed memory and forbidden love. It is a fascinating story, and one which, following the sensational Aosawa Murders, cements Riku Onda’s reputation as a must-read author for me. Though I am wary of the way the missing links were uncovered. Could it really happen this way? Is that not a tad convenient? Given the psychological complications inherent in the situation of the two protagonists, a qualified professional is probably best placed to answer that.
This sounds exciting and interesting. I want to read more Japanese authors, so am collecting a list now. This goes there.