I read Hideo Yokoyama’s Six Four at the start of 2018. I was expecting it to be one thing (a dense, layered murder mystery) and instead got another (a character study and bureaucracy-heavy police procedural). It wasn’t what I would normally read but I appreciated that it was something different. I appreciated the inflections of the main character and how Yokoyama could inject such nuance about life in Japan in the midst of a professional crisis.
I had difficulty focusing in the beginning of Seventeen. Yokoyama takes his sweet time setting the stage and I’m not quite sure for awhile why I’m supposed to care about Yuuki and these people. Only as he begins to reveal things about the coverage of the crash, about Yuuki’s life, about the existence of journalism, and the fragile nature of families did I began to fall deeper and deeper into the story. This is being billed as a thriller but in so many ways, it’s not just not a thriller but almost an anti-thriller, not in a sense that it moves too fast but because it takes the pieces of a thriller and grinds them to reveal the story. I don’t know many writers who have this kind of specific talent.
Seventeen is basically Six Four stripped down and with a focus on journalism instead of law enforcement. It left me with the same feelings the other did. The meditations on life and death, rock climbing, journalism, etc. are deep and profoundly felt. I don’t know who to recommend these books to but I do recommend them all the same.