The horror, of seemingly ordinary people doing horrifying things, can take the eyes of just as seemingly ordinary people to see.
Tall, soft-spoken Natsume used to work with troubled kids at a reformatory but resigned mid-career to become a police detective. Those who’ve known him wonder why the gentlest of men, whose vocation had been to have faith in humans, now doubts them professionally. The truths of his path unfold over seven carefully crafted chapters, each of which stands on its own as a short story with the power to move and delight the most seasoned reader.
Determination, not vengeance, animates A Cop’s Eyes, its focus neither well-placed punches, nor even stunning feats of forensics, but the stubbornly interpersonal dimension of detective work. An anti-hero in a wholly different vein from noir protagonists, the ying to Dirty Harry’s yang, Natsume will endear himself to fans of understated Robert Parker goodness and the late Peter Falk’s Lt. Columbo.
Contrary to the adjectives that would later come to be applied to his writing, Gaku Yakumaru, born in 1969 in Hyogo Prefecture, could not get enough of Steve McQueen and dabbled in musicals, screenplay writing, and comics scripting before winning the Edogawa Rampo Award for new mystery writers in 2005 with An Angel’s Knife. A professional novelist ever since, he has won multiple nominations, including from the Mystery Writers of Japan, for his nuanced explorations of violent crimes perpetrated by minors and underage offenders’ subsequent ethical choices. A few of his works, An Angel’s Knife and A Cop’s Eyes among them, have been adapted into TV dramas.
Begun in 2006, the Cop’s series featuring Detective Natsume appears at a deliberate pace of roughly one magazine installment per year; the sequel, A Cop’s Promise, was only collected in 2014. This English edition marks the phenomenal author’s North American debut.