Book Review – Confessions by Kanae Minato

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Book review originally published on January 3, 2016 in my first blog. Also posted in my Goodreads account.

I was blown away when I saw the movie version of Confessions. It was only afterwards that I learned that it was based on a novel by Kanae Minato. I first came across Confessions on a list of horror movies a former professor of mine, a movie buff, made. Not to mislead anyone, Confessions is entirely unlike a typical ghosts-and-ghouls horror movie but it is psychologically horrifying. Anyway, back to the novel: Minato has crafted a very complex, layered psychological trail in this story. It’s a lean, mean thriller, pulling no punches for 230-plus pages. Despite having seen the movie first, the book still left me breathless as I crept towards the final page thanks to Minato’s brilliant unfolding of her plot. Without spoiling any details, I’ll just say that this book ended with its climax. If it had any denouement, it would be the last two sentences.

Minato dives into the psychology behind each character, perfectly capturing each voice, whether adult or adolescent, and she takes the reader in-depth around each of their own nuances and psychological complexes. And it’s quite a fun ride. Moriguchi is the novel’s central character, a middle school teacher, single mother, who lost her daughter Manami in an accident. She discovers that what appeared to be an accident had in fact been murder and she then decides to exact some vengeance. At least that’s as much as the book’s blurb reveals so buckle up for the rest of the story because Moriguchi’s revenge plot is pure evil and she has got to be the most cunning, cold-blooded middle school teacher you’ll ever encounter.

I think that Kanae Minato has written the novel quite concisely, in fact, I could wish for more pages. But at the same time, given the nature of the plot, anything more would have made the novel dragging and would have ruined the story’s pace. The novel’s length with respect to its plot was perfectly tailored, in my opinion.Confessions is some evil genius of a novel—carefully crafted, cut lean without any unnecessary rambling, delivered efficiently.

Just as a side note, I watched The Snow White Murder Case movie the other week, which was also based on one of Minato’s novels. Unfortunately, that novel has not been translated into English yet so I’m really looking forward to a translation of that or any of Minato’s other works. Or I might just have to learn reading in Japanese.

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