War and crime

In devastated, occupied Tokyo, it’s still an unimaginable crime: A man, pretending to be a public health doctor, enters a bank after hours. He claims the bank employees have been exposed to dysentery and administers an oral “vaccine.” It’s poison. Twelve die; four survivors are incapacitated and near death as he robs the bank. Based on this true crime, David Peace’s novel Occupied City is literary detective fiction, infused with poetry and a Rashômon-like vision. In each of 12 chapters based on an occult ceremony, a different narrator offers a version of events. It’s a useful way to question the crime. Were the American occupation forces too quick to cover up Japanese intelligence experiments with biological weapons? Can an occupied city ever recover, or is it always a fatal case? The setting might be historical—Tokyo after World War II—but the story is as fresh as human nature, especially given current occupations and war crimes.