This is the story, apparently based on an actual case, of a man who confesses to the disappearance and murder of eight people in Japan, then goes completely silent, refusing to talk anymore, even though there is no evidence beyond his confession that he was involved. Interesting setup, and I will say the ending (which I won't spoil) was thought-provoking.
But. The book is narrated by a man named Jesse Ball. That set off alarm bells for me right up front. I'm trying to remember if I've ever read a novel that had a major character named after the author that didn't annoy me, and nothing comes to mind. It's as if the readers are supposed to have some excitement in wondering how much is true. Well, it's a damned novel. It's not supposed to be true, at least not in that sense. If it's a memoir, write a memoir. If not, don't use your own name. It's tricksy and precious.
My second problem with the book is that it's structured entirely as transcripts and notes from interviews conducted by Jesse Ball. This keeps the reader at a greater distance from the characters and the stories. Rarely do we "see" them--there's little description--and often the writing is dry and informative rather than engrossing.
The writing veers into pretentiousness periodically, and is often repetitive--odd for such a short book. There's enough going on that filling a book shouldn't be a problem.
I wish the book had been told more conventionally, and that we'd gotten deeper into the characters' heads. The framework as it is quickly became off-putting.
Ah well. On to the next ToB contender.