Junko Aoki has the gift of pyrokinesis: she can set anything on fire with her energy. When she retreats to an abandoned factory to displace some of her energy into a huge pool of water there she inadvertently witnesses a murder.

The Asaba gang has kidnapped a woman and killed her date; they are trying to throw his body into the pool of water so that it won’t be detected.

Junko is so incensed at what she sees that she kills three of the gang members by burning them, and as the leader escapes she promises herself that she will seek to destroy him as well.

A parallel part of the story tells of Chikako Ishizu, the only woman in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, who seeks the person who is setting these fires as well as burning criminals.

A third strand tells of the Guardians, a special group which made me think of the Mob in a way: they have taken it upon themselves to “deliver justice” and formed a band of members with special abilities who also try to do away with criminals. The Guardians woo Junko into their midst, luring her with gifts and the promise of love from one of its members until they become disenchanted with the way Junko makes her gift too well known.

There are several fascinating aspects to this story:

  • the whole idea of pyrokinesis (and other abilities such as telekinesis)
  • the loneliness of those who are set apart by their gifts or hidden talents
  • the way families are effected by those with such gifts
  • the question of justice

When we discover that the crossfire is between the victim and the criminal, between the law and those who have taken it upon themselves to deliver justice, we’re faced with two critical questions:
Does anyone have the right to kill another?
Is there ever a right reason to take a life?
I found this book profound on many levels, not only as a mystery/thriller, but also a treatise on ethics. It was excellent.

Crossfire was written by Miyuki Miyabe who “was born in downtown Tokyo and worked in a law office before becoming a full-time writer. She is the recipient of numerous literary prizes, including Japan’s most prestigious award for popular literature, the Naoki Prize. She is the author of All She Was Worth, Shadow Family, and The Devil’s Whipser. Crossfire was a major bestseller in Japan and has been adapted to film.” (from the back cover of the book published by Kodansha International)

6 thoughts on “Crossfire”

  1. It sounds profound. I have often said that it is a good thing that God didn't grant me the ability to just kill at a whim as I am afraid of how many annoying (to me) people might not be around anymore! 🙂


  2. Hi Bellezza,Interesting review. I just read Miyabe's "All She Was Worth," which I enjoyed quite a bit, for the OT Challenge, so I'll probably be in the mood for another book from her sometime soon. Thanks for the tip!


  3. Social reformer, um…yeah. I'm not quite sure what you mean, but then again, I just teach third grade.Carl, it's a good thing we don't work at Wal-Mart (if we're talking about annoying people milling about).R-Lo, thanks for visiting. I read "All She Was Worth" in October, and I have to tell you I enjoyed Crossfire much more.


  4. Tanabata, there's something about Miyabe's writing where I'm pulled in immediately, and then in the middle it starts to drag for me. Still, I liked Crossfire better than All She Was Worth, although both of them were interesting mysteries…especially from an Eastern perspective. I'm fairly certain I'll give the two of them away in a prize package at the end of the challenge, so they could be coming your way.


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