It begins with a woman’s search to find her husband, who disappears after watching a TV show. She enlists the aid of her husband’s best friend, and together they discover that the famous female personality of the TV show disappeared after the same evening’s broadcast as well. The duo’s search leads to a battle within a religious cult. Each answer brings only more questions, until the story’s stunning final solution is revealed.
Promenade of the Gods is a parallel piece to Koji Suzuki’s successful Ring series and even contains some sl nods to his famous work. Its theme of planet-wide subjugation via technology echoes that in Ring, and like Ring, the way in which the pieces of the mystery in Promenade come together only materialize in the book’s final moments, culminating in a most unsettling conclusion.
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“A tensely wrought tale. Suzuki doesn’t stereotype true believers as mindless automatons, the way they’ve been frequently portrayed in the mass media. He nevertheless provides interesting insights into how people in a spiritual vacuum are drawn to cults. The climax is presented in a deviously clever manner… The style supports the narrative, raising tension through artful understatement while working in unexpected shocks. Promenade is a fine effort, with a ring of plausibility that subtly revives the mood back in March 1995, when the public’s fears of Shoko Asahara’s doomsday cult were palpable.” —Mark Schreiber, The Japan Times
The Japanese attitudes presented in the book are interesting, from the formality at various encounters to how the police treat the kidnappings to the way the media reacts. Suzuki obviously also means to show how people look to fulfill their ambitions and dreams, from lackadaisical Shirow, unsure whether or not to pursue Miyuki, to his star employee, who just dreams of flying, to Miyuki, willing to perform ignominious sex acts because she can’t imagine anything better; part of the (peculiar) fun of the novel is how Suzuki presents these quests for fulfillment. –-The Complete Review "…a rewarding and enjoyable tale."–Ken Haley