Book reviews: People Who Eat Darkness | My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You | Triumph of the City

William Leith reviews the latest offerings published in paperback

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

(Vintage, £7.99)

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Rating: ****

This is great true crime book, up there with Joe McGinnis, and even possibly Truman Capote. It’s about the disappearance, in 2000, of Lucie Blackman, an English girl working as a hostess in a bar in Tokyo. Parry takes us back into Lucie’s life, the broken middle-class home in Sevenoaks, the boyfriends, the debt, the move to Japan to become a bar hostess, the meeting with a client called Joji Obara. Then he takes us into the life of Obara, a serial rapist and killer. But it’s not just about this one crime. It’s also about Japan. Brilliant.

My Dear, I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young

(Harper, £7.99)

Rating; ***

London, 1907. Noel, a posh boy, throws a snowball at Riley, a working-class boy. They’re in Kensington Gardens. Noel’s mum takes Riley home. An epic is set in motion; Riley becomes friends with posh people, falls in love with a posh girl called Nadine and has a gay encounter. Confused, he enlists for the trenches and fights his way across Flanders while Nadine pines for him and vice versa. Meanwhile, Nadine’s mum Jacqueline, who is French, hardens herself towards Riley; too common, she thinks. A costume drama-to-be, quite possibly, written in a simple, rather readable style.

Triumph of the City by Edward Glaesser

(Pan, £9.99)

Rating: ***

A tiny proportion of the western world is covered by cities, but the vast majority of us live in them. It’s getting easier to commute and to send information across the globe. You’d think we’d be heading for the countryside. But we’re not; it’s the opposite. Why? Because cities are great. People love cities. They are where most of human progress occurs, where ideas bounce around. People think we’re miserable in cities, but we’re happier. There are lots of clear ideas here. Inspiring.