(Maintained and edited by Sophie Barkerwood)
Welcome to the Panel (sounds mysterious and Hunger Gamesy, bear with); where young readers are presented with the opportunity to give their opinions on books they’ve read and loved, and share them with the world. Every few months a free book is selected for each member, and their thoughts on it are published here. If you’re below 19 and live nearby, or visit Scarthin Books in Cromford regularly, and are interested in joining, please visit in store and email youngfictionreviewpanel@with your details and a review of a book you’ve read recently and you could be amongst the wonderful reviews we have on show. *witty goodbye pun involving books*
Click below to read the Panel’s reviews:
OUR LATEST REVIEW PUBLISHED 15th March 2018
Six Four – a disaster. In 1989, seven-year old Shoko Amamiya disappeared near her home. Later, her parents received a phone call demanding 20 million yen or their daughter would die. The abductor made Shoko’s father travel to several businesses, to receive further instructions, before getting him to throw the bag full of money over the edge of a bridge. A few days later, the girl was found dead. The murderer wasn’t caught.
Mikami had been a detective on the case but now, in 2002, he had been moved to head of Media Relations, interacting with the press. His own daughter is missing, a runaway. However, the Police Commission decides to visit, meaning Mikami has to rebuild the relationship with Shoko’s father so the visit can happen while organising the media, who are currently wanting to boycott the event over the issue of anonymous reporting.
This crime novel is different from the other within the genre, it is not an action-packed thriller where Mikami is trying to solve a murder mystery. Mikami is just trying to do his job as Press Director, so most of his time involves communicating with the press and police while uncovering the corruption within the latter. The author has a fantastic understanding of the Japanese police/detectives and the politics between the different departments.
The book is very slow at first, diving deep into the interoffice affairs and there are a lot of characters to keep up with as Mikami
interacts with people from both Administration Affairs and Criminal Investigations. Helpfully, there is a family tree at the start of the book with the key players from different departments on, which is good to refer back to if you forget a character and where they work for. In the last two hundred pages the plot and action kicks off, all the side-stories in the narrative are linked together and drawn into a fantastic conclusion.
This novel is very well calculated, everything within it happens for a reason. It is a long novel but that is not due to an editing
miscalculation. It is an excellent insight into the Japanese culture. What was an unexpected joy of this novel was that Mikami is a flawed character, he wasn’t written to be perfect. He is a workaholic with a temper and accidentally slightly sexist at times. We’re in the age of the ‘Mary Sue’ characters, so it is such a pleasure to read about a ‘normal’ person.
I recommend it for older teens because of the complexity of the interdepartmental issues and the multiple layers of conflict. Younger readers may miss the subtleties in this plot.