Every now and then, you finish a novel and ask yourself, what exactly just happened? So you reread the book immediately, only to realize your initial reaction has now changed. For many readers, this will be the case with Benjamin Constable’s first novel, Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa, a darkly psychological tale that will appeal to mystery fans.

His main character, a struggling expat British writer (who happens to be named Ben Constable), spends his free time drinking, writing and cavorting around Paris with his friend, Tomomi Ishikawa (aka “Butterfly”). Then Constable receives a suicide note from Butterfly that sends him on a hunt for the reason behind her death. Grieving, Ben embarks on a bizarre treasure hunt through Butterfly’s favorite haunts—the Jardin des Soupirs, the rue de la Cloche and even her apartment—in order to figure out who Butterfly really was, and what her end game might be.

Ben soon learns there are as many layers to Butterfly's story as there are surrounding the core of an onion.

Ben soon learns there are as many layers to Butterfly’s violent backstory as there are surrounding the core of an onion. As his quest takes him from Paris to New York City, Ben begins to question whether Butterfly really did commit suicide. And if she didn’t, what is the explanation for her hoax?

Although there are elements that seem to be unnecessary additions to an already engaging and creative plot (Ben not only has an imaginary cat for a companion, he also suffers from prosopagnosia), overall, the book eloquently touches on depression’s crippling effects. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa poignantly explores how fiction often imitates reality, and why it might be impossible at times to separate the two.

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