Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable
Gallery Books, 6/4/2013
Trade Paperback, 352 pages
What writer Benjamin Constable needs is a real-life adventure wilder than his rampant imagination. And who better to shake up his comfortable
Englishman-in-Paris routine than the enigmatic Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa, who has just sent a cryptic suicide note?She’s planted a slew of clues—in the pages of her journal, on the hard drive of her computer, tucked away in public places, under flowerpots, and behind statues. Heartbroken, confused, and accompanied by an imaginary cat, Ben embarks upon a scavenger hunt leading to charming and unexpected spaces, from the hidden alleys of Paris to the cobblestone streets of New York City.But Butterfly’s posthumous messages are surprisingly well informed for the words of a dead person, and they’re full of confessions of a past darkened by insanity, betrayal, and murder. The treasures Ben is unearthing are installments of a gruesome memoir. Now he must draw a clear line between the real and surreal if he is to save himself, Butterfly, and what remains of their crazy and amazing friendship.
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable is an absolutely unique novel that should be considered one of the must read books of the summer. Ben Constable (yes, the main character is named after the author) is good friends with Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa. Butterfly has left Ben a suicide note, sent him emails, and left him her computer. On Butterfly’s computer, and in the emails, are enigmatic clues which eventually send Ben on a mission to find the final answers to all the questions Butterfly has managed to raise.
Ben, sometimes accompanied by his invisible/imaginary Cat, begins searching for the clues and notebooks/writing that Butterfly has left for him in Paris and New York City. Ben follows the clues and uncovers stories Butterfly has written, which seem to indicate that she is a serial killer. While he questions the validity of her stories, he also begins to doubt everything he thought he knew about Butterfly – including her suicide.
Butterfly indicates that she wants Ben to write about her life, but has she just set him up with her dark tales? How well do we know our friends? Can we trust them? And is everything exactly how we think it is in the story, or are we misjudging the clues.
While all of this sounds dark, it is a very balanced novel with playful and humorous moments too.
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa is an exquisite novel. Constable’s writing is luscious and stunning. His descriptive abilities and marvelous character development are incredible. I just can’t adequately express how completely I was entranced by the plot and how truly thoughtful and captivating I found Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa.
Very Highly Recommended
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books via Netgalley for review purposes.