Lucie Blackman needed to get out of debt; although many twenty-one-year olds wouldn’t have been bothered by credit card debts and loan repayments, Lucie felt their weight keenly. Japan, her friend Louise told her, was the answer to all her money problems. A young, attractive blonde like Lucie would have no problems earning quick money (illegally) on a three-month tourist visa. Lucie agreed to this rather daring plan, and the two friends left their homes in Britain and quickly found jobs as hostesses at the nightclub Casablanca in Tokyo.
Part of the mizu shobai, the Japanese nightlife, or some might say the Japanese sex industry, hostessing was a quasi-respectable option for many foreign girls seeking fast money. There was nothing overtly sexual about the job: a girl simply had to pour whiskey, light cigarettes, sing karaoke, and chat flirtatiously with lonely Japanese men. The girls were, however, required to go on dinner dates – dohan – with the customers and then bring them back to the club. Two months after arriving in Japan, Lucie went on a dohan and was never seen alive again.
Frantic with worry, Lucie’s father and sister arrived in Tokyo and immediately bombarded the police, the press, and the British embassy, with inquiries about Lucie. What followed was months of false sightings and leads, con artists determined to take advantage of the family’s desperation, a seemingly bumbling police department that was unnervingly slow in following up on clues, and much in-fighting amongst the Blackman family who, not on the best of terms to begin with, found themselves irrevocably torn apart and damaged by the investigation.
Gruesome discoveries, sinister secrets, and finally the truth, or at least part of the truth about Lucie’s disappearance emerge in Richard Parry’s haunting and unforgettable true crime book People Who Eat Darkness.