This is the second of Natsuo Kirino’s novels to be translated into English and, as with Out, Grotesque cannot easily be categorised as a crime novel. It is so much more than that. The novel begins with the murders of two Tokyo prostitutes, but there is no whodunnit element to the narrative. We learn early on that an arrest has been made and that the suspect has confessed to one murder and denies the other, and that is how it is left at the end of the novel – we know how one died, but not the other. The book itself is constructed from the diaries of the two prostitutes, an autobiographical narrative of one of the prostitute’s sisters and the confesional record of the murderer. Thus we hear four different voices, all telling first-person narratives, four different perspectives, often giving slightly contradictory accounts of the same set of events. And yet the novel is not disjointed and has the fast pacing of a thriller. Like Out (which I enjoyed reading last year) Grotesque is not gratuitously violent or gory (it is the characters who are grotesque, rather than the events of the book), but it deals unapologetically with the brutalising underbelly of Japanese society. This is a serious book that demands serious reading.