“The smell of blood woke me.” So says Han Yu-jin, a would-be law student with a history of seizures who lives in Incheon, at the start of South Korean author Jeong’s superlative thriller, her first to be translated into English. After he regains consciousness, Yu-jin follows an increasingly ominous trail of bloody handprints and footprints to the kitchen, where he finds his mother’s body. Her throat has been slit and her hands posed, clasped, on her chest. All Yu-jin can recall about the previous night is that he went out for a run around midnight in the rain to relieve his restlessness and saw a girl get off a bus. Did he kill his mother? His desperate efforts to sort out exactly what happened are intensified when his stepbrother and his aunt call to ask after his mother. Readers who enjoy grappling with the issue of a narrator’s reliability will relish Yu-jin, who believes that “being true to life wasn’t the only way to tell a story.”
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