Blogged at River City Reading
Too often, it seems, we attempt to pigeonhole books into genres rather than giving writers the freedom to create something different. While I certainly see the purpose of categorizing for the sake of recommending or finding books, I hate the thought of novels being overlooked or edited simply because they straddle genre lines.
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa succeeds, in part, because it is not easily categorized. While it has the bones of a mystery or thriller, the novel has much more imagination and whimsy than either genre alone. When was the last time the protagonist in your spy series stopped following a trail to talk to an imaginary cat?
At the same time, however, the characters are incredibly self-aware. Constable's voice is always a step ahead of any criticism the reader may have - he even takes a moment to explain why his cat is not restricted by the laws of science. His fantastic ability to play with words and language is an added bonus, as it gives the novel a quirky tone and infuses the book with phrases that act as an extra puzzle.
I hesitate to share too much about the hunt Butterfly left behind and the trail of stories Ben ultimately discovers in hopes of avoiding spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well suspense and humor were blended to the tail end. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa is an unexpected, playful jaunt woven by an author with a talent for navigating language that you won't want to miss.