Fiction – paperback; Picador; 272 pages; 2002.
Did she do it, or didn’t she? This is the one question that propels the reader to keep turning the pages in this unusual but gripping murder mystery by Susanna Jones.
I read this book in one sitting — okay, so I was trapped on a long-haul flight from London to Melbourne, but even if I wasn’t I’m sure I would have read The Earthquake Bird just as quickly.
Set in Japan, it tells the story of an ex-pat English woman, Lucy Fly, working in Tokyo as a translator. She is arrested by police on suspicion of murdering a fellow English backpacker. What the reader is never quite sure of is this: is Lucy telling the truth? And why did she leave Yorkshire all those years ago? Why is she no longer in touch with her family? What exactly is she hiding?
Susanna Jones has written a sparse but intriguing novel with a menacing undertone throughout. As well as being a gripping, intelligent read, I found the insights into Japanese culture equally interesting. It’s also very reminiscent of Losing Gemma by Katy Gardner.
But don’t just take my word for it: this book won the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger for Best First Crime Novel of 2001.