Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun – Book Review

Translated from its original Korean, Lemon is an atmospheric crime story from Kwon Yeo-Sun. It focuses on the murder of 19-year-old student, Kim Hae-on in the summer of 2002. Last seen in a yellow lemon dress, her murderer is never caught, although two boys were prime suspects at the time.

Opening sentence: I imagine what happened inside one police interrogation room so many years ago.

The mystery of Lemon

We follow Kim Hae-on’s sister, Da-on and another narrator in the present day. Da-on recounts the impact her sister’s murder has had on her and their mother and goes on a search for closure. While doing this, she reveals the impact the murder investigation had on the suspects’ lives too.

Not being able to put an end to an incident so horrific – I couldn’t begin to imagine that kind of weight on a life.

Quite bleak but with flashes of clever sentences that had a philosophical feel due to its exploration of death and what it means to live. This is a story more about the emotions such an horrific event inflicts than the tracking down of the true culprit. Not to say that doesn’t happen; the ending had that hook that I was looking for and gave it a satisfying finish.

Life begins without reason and ends without reason.

I worry I’ve made Lemon sound quite grim but it’s not a heavy read. Enigmatic in many ways, it doesn’t feel like any other crime stories I’ve read recently. Which is always a good thing. I have to admit I was drawn to the eye-catching cover and am glad I read it, very much enjoying Lemon‘s take on crime fiction.

  • Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
  • Translated by Janet Hong;
  • Get your copy of Lemon here;
  • Published by Picador 7th October 2021;
  • 176 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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