Midnight Journal

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Midnight Journal
Author: Masato Honjō
Specifications: ISBN  978-4062198998
367 pages
13.8 x 19.5 cm / 5.5 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
Tokyo, 2016
Awards: Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, 2017
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


This story of old-fashioned investigative journalism revolves around three reporters, two men and a woman, at a national newspaper. The three were once part of an elite team whose beat was the criminal investigations division at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. After three young girls are kidnapped at different times in Tokyo and Yokohama, the team publishes an exclusive identifying the kidnapper when he is arrested and then follow up with another article when they learn the police have discovered the hideout where the kidnapper may have sequestered his third victim. Their editor, however, changes the article to report that the victim’s dead body has been found when, in fact, the victim is alive and well, and this leads to the team’s disgrace and punishment. One of the three, who was never very popular to begin with, is transferred to the newspaper’s Saitama branch, where he is put in charge of training new recruits. Another remains at Tokyo headquarters but is left at loose ends with no specific assignments. The third, who has just had a son, volunteers for dull but less controversial in-house layout work.

Seven years later, there are two successive incidents in which two elementary schoolgirls in Saitama are almost kidnapped by a man in a car. Less than a week later, a sixth-grade girl disappears in Tokyo and is later found dead, and then another girl is kidnapped in Chiba. Is the same person responsible for the abductions and the murder? One of the Saitama girls says there were two men, but is she right?

Stirred by the uncanny resemblance to the kidnappings seven years earlier, the three reporters and a new recruit converge once again to trace slim leads and faint clues that seem to tie the past and present abductions to the same perpetrators. In a counterpoint to our Internet era, Honjō infuses his tale with the reality of the painstaking physical footwork and commitment of good investigative reporting.