Earthquake Bird

Jones, Susanna

Published by Picador, 2002
ISBN 10: 0330485024 / ISBN 13: 9780330485029
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Synopsis: Early this morning, several hours before my arrest, I was woken by an earth tremor. I mention the incident not to suggest that there was a connection -- that somehow the fault lines in my life came crashing together in a form of a couple of policemen -- for in Tokyo we have a quake like this every month. I am simply relating the sequence of events as it happened. It has been an unusual day and I would hate to forget anything ...So begins The Earthquake Bird, a haunting novel set in Japan which reveals a murder on its first page and takes its readers into the mind of the chief suspect, Lucy Fly -- a young, vulnerable English girl living and working in Tokyo as a translator. As Lucy is interrogated by the police she reveals her past to the reader, and it is a past which is dangerously ambiguous and compromising ...Why did Lucy leave England for the foreign anonymity of Japan ten years before, and what exactly had prompted her to sever all links with her family back home? She was the last person to see the murdered girl alive, so why was she not more forthcoming about the circumstances of their last meeting? As Lucy's story unfolds, it emerges that secrets, both past and present, obsess her waking life ...Winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize

Review: Penzler Pick, August 2001: A bestseller in England, Susanna Jones's first novel is one of those books that grips you while you read and stays with you long after you've finished.

Lucy Fly is an English woman working as a translator in Tokyo. When the story opens she has been arrested for the murder of another English woman, Lily Bridges, whose partial remains have just been found. As Lucy is interrogated, she tells of her childhood in Yorkshire, her ability with languages, and her escape from her drab life to the relative anonymity of living in Japan. She also talks about her friendships: with the Japanese women with whom she works and sometimes socializes; with Teiji, a photographer with whom she is having an affair; and with Lily, who comes from the same part of Yorkshire as Lucy and who reminds Lucy of everything she is trying to escape.

And yet Lucy is drawn to Lily. Lily is working as a bartender, but in England she was a nurse and, when the two of them go on a hike together and Lucy is hurt, she is made comfortable by Lily's attentions. Even as we listen to Lucy, we feel that she may be hiding something from us. She doesn't tell us a great deal about her affair with Teiji, for instance. In fact, she admits that she doesn't remember much of their conversations, although she tells us that they must have talked a lot since she knows so much about him. Also disconcerting is her strange habit of lapsing into the third person when talking about herself.

As she reveals what she knows to the police--and to the reader--they, and we, become increasingly uncomfortable. The more we know about Lucy, the less we understand about her relationships with Teiji and Lily. When we finally do understand some of what she is saying, we are shocked.

This little gem of a book is a startlingly good debut. --Otto Penzler

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Earthquake Bird
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: 2002
Book Condition: Good

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