The Gun
by Fuminori Nakamura
Soho Crime

Nauseated by Nordic noir? Why not jump into Japanese thrillers? Keigo Higashino, Fumiko Enchi, Rampo Edogawa, Hideo Yokoyama (to name but four) have produced novels good enough to give Jo Nesbø a run for his money. And Fuminori Nakamura is every bit the equal of this elite band.

The Gun, Nakamura’s debut from 2002, won the Shincho Prize for New Writers and has now been published in English for the first time. The Gun’s opening is atmospheric: “The relentlessness of the rain seemed to symbolise my own melancholy …” This is Nishikawa, a suitably noirish anti-hero. If his feckless ennui mixes Chandler and Camus, what happens next crosses Mishima and Higashino. Chancing upon a dead body soaked with water and blood, Nishikawa finds a gun that quickly becomes an obsession. If the rain symbolises his melancholy, the gun becomes a metaphor for untapped reservoirs of rage, paranoia and violence, towards women, strangers and (one might argue) Japanese society as a whole.