Two prostitutes have been murdered in Tokyo.
Yuriko had been working as a prostitute all her adult life, starting while still at school, where her stunning beauty compensated for what she lacked in intellect and commanded attention from older men.
Kazue worked for a blue-chip company and had good career prospects, but was unpopular with colleagues and felt isolated. She chose to walk the streets at night where she hoped to get noticed.
Twenty years previously both women were educated at an elite school for young ladies, and both exhibited exceptional promise prior to their brutal , unnecessary deaths. How and why did this tragedy occur? With narration from Yuriko's embittered, unattractive sister and through the girls' journals and diaries Kirino allows their shocking story to unfurl.
As with Out, Grotesque gets under the skin, and Kirino's analysis of the female psyche grips the reader. The extreme need to succeed, and the vicious desire to be accepted in the bewildering environment of modern life is explored here with acute and chilling insight. Grotesque is a masterful and haunting achievement.
Natsuo Kirino, born in 1951, quickly established a reputation in Japan as one of a rare breed of crime writer whose work goes well beyond the conventional crime novel. This fact has been demonstrated by her winning not only Japan's top mystery award, for Out, but one of its major literary awards, the Naoki Prize, for Soft Cheeks. Several of her books have also been turned into movies. Grotesque is the second of her novels to appear in English.