14 August 2011

Book Review: Who is Mr Satoshi? by Jonathan Lee

Title: Who is Mr Satoshi?
Author: Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Windmill Books
ISBN: 9780099537687
Format: Paperback
295 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Author

Who is Mr Satoshi? is Jonathan Lee's first novel, and very impressive it is too. It's a thought-provoking story about an unhappy Englishman who sets out on a life-changing journey when he searches for a mysterious stranger in Japan.

Rob Fossick, aged forty-one, is a photographer who no longer works because he suffers from depression and intense bouts of panic attacks.

On the day his mother dies, Rob finds a package his mother had addressed to a 'Mr Satoshi' in Tokyo. Rob is keen to find out more about the mysterious stranger. So, despite his constant state of anxiety, Rob decides he must try to find 'Mr Satoshi' and personally deliver the parcel to him.

In Japan, Rob (aka Foss) experiences more panic attacks and is overwhelmed by the task he has set for himself. He is befriended by Chiyoko, a friendly young Japanese woman who speaks fluent English. Chiyoko is intrigued by Foss's plan to deliver a parcel from his mother to a complete stranger, and she decides to help Foss try and find Mr Satoshi.

Together, Foss and Chiyoko begin to piece together clues about the enigmatic Mr Satoshi and try to discover his whereabouts. During their research, they discover a possible connection to a disturbing incident that occurred in 1946.

Why is the report about the incident so mysterious? What really happened? Who is Mr Satoshi? What does the package contain? Why was his mother so keen for the package to be delivered to Mr Satoshi?

Who is Mr Satoshi? is an intriguing story with more than one mystery to keep the reader enthralled until the satisfying ending. It's very clever to see how the mysteries all fit together and to realize their far-reaching implication.

The backstory to explain why Foss suffers from such intense anxiety and deep melancholy, is revealed little by little, and it's fascinating to see how his character changes when he is in Japan.

It is a journey that will dramatically change Foss's life but it's also a very funny story with appealing, quirky characters like a a former sumo wrestler who owns a 'love hotel' called the Hotel Villa Dolly because he is a Dolly Parton fan.

I loved all the touches of humour and the amusing dialogue, particularly when Chiyoko uses English expressions that aren't quite right. I also enjoyed all the bits of information about Japanese culture and history, that are woven into the story.

Who is Mr Satoshi is a gem of a story and it's obvious why Jonathan Lee was featured on the BBC’s Culture Show as one of the best new British novelists. I'm grateful to the author for sending me a copy.

I highly recommend Who is Mr Satoshi?


  1. It sounds like an intriguing read so I've made a note to keep an eye out for it! Flighty xx

  2. It is Flighty. I'm sure you would enjoy reading is as much as I did.

  3. I'm putting it on my reads list. Looks good!

  4. It's a fab story, Suzie. Enjoy!

  5. Thanks for writing this review. The idea of several mysteries coalescing is an intriguing one. Most of the time, having one mystery work out is a tough job.

  6. I'm glad you like the review. It's a fascinating story with lots of humour throughout as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.