People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

The setting is Tokyo, Japan. Lucie Blackman, a 21 year old British woman  has moved to Tokyo with her friend Louise.  Lucie, tall, slim and blond has held several types of jobs including a flight attendant.  Nothing seemed to get Lucie out of her debt.  A friend of Louise told her they could make a lot of money in a short period of time by 'hostessing."
The type of hostessing being referred to is not the call girl type.  Apparently in Japan there are bars where Japanese business men (called salary men) come in with clients to drink and have conversations with western women.  The objects are to get the men to spend money and for the hostess to develop a regular client base, in order to get more money.  Pivate meetings called dohans are allowed and the men must pay for this extra time.  Lucie assumed that since other young women had done this it would be safe.  And according to reported statistics, Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world.  Once arriving in Tokyo Lucie and Louise rent a house in the Roppongi district.  By day this is a respectable business area, at night it is filled with bars of all kinds.
Lucie and Louise spend their days  hungover, sleeping, shopping and preparing for another night's work.  On Saturday, July 1 Lucie prepared for a dohan with a mysterious man.  The man had promised Lucie a cell phone as a gift for her time.  Louise didn't know the man's name but she and Lucie were close - had never lied to each other and always kept promises to each other and Lucie said she would be back latter that afternoon, in time for dinner.  Lucie never returned.  Louise became concerned and called friends, other bars and finally the hospitals.  Finally she and a Japanese friend contacted the police.

When the police weren't interested, Louise contacted the British embassy.  They in turn contacted the police and tried to get them moving.  While this was going on, Louise received a phone call from a man saying Lucie had joined a cult, didn't want to speak to anyone and that she would never be coming back.  So begins the search for Lucie.

The book is written by a British journalist stationed in Tokyo who covered the case. It gives extensive details of the hostess trade, the lives of the women involved,  the character of the men who frequent them, the turmoil of Lucie's family and the inner workings of the police department.  In this instance, once a suspect was apprehended the case took an astounding 6 years to work its way through the Japanese legal system. This book is more than just a  tale of a horrific murder and a surreal trial.  It is a warning to be wary of situations that seem to good to be true.

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