People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Perry chronicles the disappearance of hostess Lucie Blackman in the summer of 2000, and the investigation that followed. Blackman, a British citizen, had been working as a flight attendant for British Airways, but increasing debt made her consider a more lucrative career change. Her best friend Louise had a connection to Tokyo and suggested that they join the ranks of foreign hostesses in the Roppongi district.
Japanese men who have a desire to feel superior and important choose to visit hostess clubs, where tall, international women are trained to light their cigarettes, pour them drinks and keep them occupied by conversation so that their hourly rate will increase the longer they stay in the club. A hostess can make bonuses by repeat business, or selling expensive bottles of champagne. But she must also arrange dates with the customers, at outside restaurants. Many hostesses are required to make five dates with a customer or risk losing her job. In July of 2000, Blackman made such a date.
She called her friend Louise to tell her that she was going for a drive to the seaside and would be home later that evening. She called once more to let Louise know she was all right. Then she was never heard from again. It would be months before her body would be found and a suspect arrested. Her mother and father were divorced and barely speaking. She had two younger siblings wondering where she was. Many years would pass before there would be justice for Lucie Blackman.
Richard Lloyd Perry is the Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of The Times (London) and became fascinated by the case when he worked in Japan. He wanted to pull the story together, to make Blackman into a real person and not just a sordid news headline, and with People Who Eat Darkness he has succeeded. Thoroughly researched and very compelling, this is destined to become a true crime classic along the lines of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.