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After Dark by Haruki Murakami

After Dark is a novel set within a seven hour period, commencing a few minutes before the strike of midnight. With scenes set amongst the backstreets of downtown Tokyo, its pace beautifully captures the slow, stretched out feel of the nighttime.

Highly detailed characters are, ultimately, richly exposed to the reader through a trickle of vividly naturalistic observations, expressive behaviour, meaningful interplay and effective dialogue.

In fact, it takes most of the narrative to discover who the reclusive, bookish, thoughtful main character Mari really is; her background, her fears, her dreams and the depth of connection to her sister Eri.

When combined with Haruki's skilful prose, clear voice, scrupulously crafted atmospheric scenes and volumes of unspoken mystery, it's a technique that ensures we're always immersed, always keen to turn the page.

There are many writing devices and traits at work. Chapters entitled with an ever-increasing time - to denote the advancement of the night. Pronounced shortening of chapter length as the story concludes - to enact rapid scene change and raising the tension. Using a narrator voice when visiting a scene with mystical, dreamlike viewpoints - to endow a movie director like quality. An inconclusive ending - resolution

Its a novel immediately identifiable, albeit in a fascinatingly illusive manner, as a Haruki Murakami story, and a highly recommended read.

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