End of the World Blues
By John Courtenay Grimwood
First Published: 2006
Review © 2009 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Science Fiction, Noir Thriller
End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a near future noir thriller which is connected to a far future story by a mysterious Japanese street urchin named Neku. Most of the novel takes place in Japan and England. I thought the near future look at the Tokyo underworld with biker gangs and the Yakuza was terrific and highly entertaining. The cultural differences between England and Japan are highlighted and the complicated mysteries kept me guessing. On the other hand, the far future story line didn’t work that well for me and interrupted the pace of the main story. For rating this novel, I rate the near future narrative at 3.5 out of 4 while the far future narrative only rated 2 out of 4. Since the majority of the novel consisted of the better narrative, I gave an overall rating of 3 out of 4.
The main character in End of the World Blues, Kit, is an English expatriate who moved to Tokyo and married a Japanese woman in order to escape a deep emotional trauma from his past in London. However, he seems to be attracted to trouble as evidenced by his affair with the wife of a high up member of the Yakuza. When his wife dies in a fire that also destroys his biker bar in what may or may not be an accident, he loses everything. At the same time, he is contacted by the mother of his long lost love from England who wants help investigating the suicide of her daughter who she thinks may still be alive. Kit has no love for this woman who not only doesn’t like him but is also a member of organized crime in England. Soon Kit is teamed up with the strangely talented Neku as they take on both the police and organized crime in two countries while the past closes in on Kit and the future closes in on Neku.