Jennifer Reese
April 13, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Devil of Nanking

Current Status
In Season
Mo Hayder
Mystery and Thriller, Fiction

We gave it an A

One of the characters in Mo Hayder’s dazzling The Devil of Nanking tries this last trick, and soon his entrails are strung through the trees like party streamers. In this exceedingly creepy book, Hayder’s third, the diabolically gifted British author spins a fascinating mystery from the legacy of Japanese atrocities during World War II. Grey, a troubled young Englishwoman, comes to Tokyo to track down an elderly Chinese professor, Shi Chongming, who is rumored to have film footage of particularly grisly Japanese war crimes. Chongming makes her a deal: Grey can screen the film after she infiltrates the inner circle of an octogenarian gangster whose security chief, the aforementioned Nurse, wears stiletto heels and pencil skirts, and does her best work with a butcher knife. Hayder alternates between Chongming’s wrenching account of his experiences in 1930s Nanking and Grey’s unwholesome adventures as a hostess in contemporary Tokyo, the two narratives becoming more and more engrossing as they gradually, ghoulishly intertwine.

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