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The Devil of Nanking
by Mo Hayder

Category: Fiction / Historical
368 pages; ISBN: 0802117945

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Devil of Nanking
Mo Hayder
Grove, Apr 2005, $24.00, 368 pp.
ISBN: 0802117945

In Tokyo former London University student “Grey” Hutchins seeks information on war atrocities specifically the 1937 Nanking Massacre. She hears rumors that visiting Chinese Professor Shi Chongming was in the province at the time and filmed the occupying Japanese army torturing the locals. She requests a copy of the 8mm film, but he tells her to leave.

Though broke, Grey refuses to give up just because an elderly scholar declines to help her. She obtains employment at The Club, frequented by gangsters where she meets wheelchair-bound hoodlum Fuyuki. He is protected by a mini army of thugs and is rumored to have an elixir that keeps him alive.

At Tokai University, Chongming learns that Grey has befriended Fuyuki so the professor offers her a deal; he will give her the film in exchange for her providing him with Fuyuki’s elixir. Though probably deadly, Grey accepts the devil’s terms, but wonders why he never released the film and why he covets the elixir. She will soon learn more than she ever wanted to know about both and information on her own link to 1937 Nanking.

THE DEVIL OF NANKING is an extremely complex tale not for the faint of heart that moves on two major paths. Readers follow the Professor in 1937 Nanking and Grey in 1990 Tokyo; however, the key to the flow and the evidence of Mo Haydor’s skill lies in the way the subplots deftly intermingle without disturbing each other yet connect through events and people. This dark at times gloomy tale filled with depressing lost souls is not for everyone, but those who “never forget” the depravity of humans towards humans will feel the haunting of Nanking.

Harriet Klausner


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