Books / Reviews

Evil and the Mask

by Andrew Lee

Staff Writer

What would you do if you hated your father — really hated him? Could you bring yourself to kill him? But what if that was exactly what he expected of the kind of person he was hoping you would become — a creature filled with evil thoughts and rage?

Evil and the Mask, by Fuminori Nakamura.
soho crime, Fiction.

Fuminori Nakamura’s “Evil and the Mask” postulates this scenario: The head of the Kuki family, an aristocratic clan with a successful business empire, deems to turn his youngest son, Fumihiro, into a “cancer” on the world, “a personification of evil … a being that will make this world miserable” — just as previous generations of Kuki patriarchs had done, profiting from the dark influence these “cancers” had on war, politics and business.

Fumihiro, however, has other ideas. Driven by his desire to protect Kaori, a young girl adopted as his sister and with whom he’s fallen madly in love, he sets out to destroy the Kuki family once and for all.

What follows is a twisted tale of revenge and a dark sense of duty that takes readers deep into a murky world where organized crime, big business and doomsday cults are all connected.

As Fumihiro’s mission to save Kaori progresses he takes on the identity of another man — going so far as to have surgery to alter his appearance —and he must face the fact that he may have become the monster of his father’s creation.

With this, his second novel to be translated into English, Nakamura is following in the footsteps of other Japanese “crime” fiction writers who have achieved international acclaim, such as Natsuo Kirino and Miyuki Miyabe. Yet like them, his fiction blurs the line between the crime and literary genres, with “Evil and the Mask” mixing noir and the existential question of free will.

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