Released on 27 March 2014.

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The Investigation

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3.97 based on 208 ratings & 31 reviews on Goodreads.com

Synopsis

Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls the war rages; inside a man is found brutally murdered.

Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama - also a guard - was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be . . .

As Watanabe unravels Sugiyama's final months, he begins to discover what is really going on inside this dark and violent institution, which few inmates survive: a man who will stop at nothing to dig his way to freedom; a governor whose greed knows no limits; a little girl whose kite finds her an unlikely friend. And Yun Dong-ju - the poet whose works hold such beauty they can break the hardest of hearts.

As the war moves towards its devastating close and bombs rain down upon the prison, Watanabe realises that he must find a way to protect Yun Dong-ju, no matter what it takes. This decision will lead the young guard back to the investigation - where he will discover a devastating truth . . .

At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for lost freedom and humanity in the darkest of times, The Investigation - inspired by a true story - is a sweeping, gripping tale perfect for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.

In the media

This novel mesmerizes the readers with its prison setting, complex characters, solid structure, and foreshadowing through a wide range of literary devices. Readers who have enjoyed Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief or Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption will also like The Investigation.
The List
There's been a move on of late to introduce Western readers to Korea's literary traditions. However, up until now we've not come across many Korean crime pieces. The Investigation fits the bill, and more... it is absorbing, and easily one of the most moving books I have read this year. It is the story of a personal transformation - of starting to question the things you have always taken for granted, standing up to authority and to your own culture. But it is also more far-reaching than that. It is a brave quest for freedom and humanity in a world torn apart by conflict and brutality. It is a book about man's eternal quest for meaning, beauty and the need to be understood. An unconventional crime novel, a thrilling literary novel, and a book which will stay with you forever.
Crime Fiction Lover blog
Extraordinary . . . There are already comparisons with the like a Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind (the literary elements) and Stephen King's Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (for more obvious reasons). The book also has more tangential similarities to the likes of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Yet, it retains a sense of freshness and Lee manages to surprise and delight as he weaves a tale based on the life of one of Korea's best-known poets. Like Shawshank ("I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."), The Investigation is a story about hope in the least likely of situations . . . Based on a true story, The Investigation is a beautiful, and often heart-breaking novel of despair and the hope that ideas and imagination can bring. A literary masterpiece masquerading as a mystery novel (something else is shares with Eco's The Name of the Rose), it gives us a brief glimpse of hell before showing us the beauty in the everyday . . . Jung-Myung Lee is, by all accounts, a bestseller in his native Korea. The Investigation shows that his work has international appeal. If you've enjoyed any of the novels that have been mentioned in this review - or indeed, the excellent films that have been produced from them - then this is a book not to be missed.
ReaderDad blog