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Book review: 『アンカー』by Bin Konno

Introduction

Title: 『アンカー』(Anchor)
Author: Bin Konno (今野敏)
Published by 集英社文庫

This is the fourth book in the series “Scoop” (スクープシリーズ). The series features the staff of the news desk 『ニュース・イレブン』, the journalist Fuse who always seems to come up with scoops, and detectives who work with Fuse.

Review

There is something that has always bothered me when it comes to series in crime fiction. There are some series where you can pick any book and enjoy it, you can start where you want, and you don’t need to have read the previous ones to enjoy the story. On the contrary, there are series where you should read them in order, often because the returning characters evolve from book to book and you won’t be able to fully enjoy the story if you don’t know them.

The problem is that you rarely know in which category you are when you start a series. This is why I always try to start with the first one no matter what. I made an exception with 『アンカー』and I really regret it because I just could not enjoy the story nor feel the least interest for the characters’ struggles.

You don’t strictly need to have read the first three books of the story to follow this one because it has an independent murder case in it. But half, if not more, of the story is devoted to discussions and problems among the staff of 『ニュース・イレブン』and I found each one of them extremely boring.

I guess that you are expected to know the characters, because they are not described in this book. Even at the end, I could only have a rough idea of who they were, how they lived, why they think like they did and so on. If you have already read 3 books that feature the staff of 『ニュース・イレブン』, you certainly care about them, but if you start with 『アンカー』, it is very hard to feel even remotely involved.

As for the murder case and the investigation, I found that it was scarcely satisfying for the reader. There is not much going on in terms of investigation, and the end is rather abrupt and not satisfactory. If you took all the passages were the investigation progresses or when the police officers actually do something and compress it, you will end up with something very short. It feels like reading only 50 pages of a detective novel and then realise that your book is already over.

What bothered me the most is that there are endless repetitions of the same discussions. It looked like the same discussion happened again and again, but with different characters (or even sometimes, the same characters). The staff of 『ニュース・イレブン』would debate about the role of television, the evolution of media and habits of people, ethical questions about what the program is or should be, and so on. It was not uninteresting at first, but it happens again and again. Similarly, discussions as to whether to report on the case during the program or not happened several times. It was the same when police officers were involved.

To sum up, all the passages that focus on 『ニュース・イレブン』were uninteresting to me. The murder investigation was superficial and there were countless repetitions. The only thing that is great in this novel is that it reads very quickly and effortlessly. There are a lot of dialogues, and you end up turning 10 or 20 pages without realising it. As a consequence, I read this book relatively quickly, and I never thought of giving it up, even though I was frustrated by the story most of the time.

I do think that the book has flaws in itself (like the numerous repetitions), but you certainly enjoy it more if you have read the whole series. Unfortunately, 『アンカー』did not make me want to touch the スクープシリーズ again…

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