THE EARTHQUAKE BIRD by SUSANNA JONES (2003 edition)
First Published in 2001
Literary Awards: John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (2001), The Crime Writers’ Association New Blood Dagger (2001)
Susanna Jones’s exceptional debut is a thriller set in Tokyo, where 34-year-old Lucy Fly — an English expat who translates “tedious” technical manuals — has agreed to help a new arrival, Lily Bridges, navigate her first confusing weeks in Japan. Like Lucy, Lily has also fled an unhappy life in Yorkshire, but as Lily insinuates herself into Lucy’s life, Lucy finds that she has gained a friend but lost her sometime lover, Teiji. “I had been in possession of a lover and a friend. Now
I had neither. They had stolen themselves from each other and me.”
When Lily disappears and her body is found dismembered in Tokyo Bay, Lucy becomes the chief suspect and the focus of an intense police interrogation, through which she narrates her life story. From her unwelcome birth through her painful Yorkshire childhood, Lucy illuminates her growing fascination with music and language, both of which helped provide her means of escape.
But Lucy now must struggle to prove her innocence in the murder of Lily. Alas, the first person she must convince is herself. “The defendant must decide how to plead. And here is my plea. Not guilty, but not not guilty…. I, of all people, should not be too hasty to judge.” As she probes ever deeper into the enigmatic mind of Lucy Fly, Susanna Jones creates a brilliantly rendered drama of psychological suspense in which the ghostly vestiges of guilt, the thin line between love and obsession, and the seeming clarity of language combine to cloud the judgment of both character and reader alike.
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