When We Were Orphans is a novel about an English private detective, though you don’t actually see much detective work. Christopher Banks is a famous detective who has his own personal unsolved mystery involving the disappearance of his parents when he was a boy.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Kasuo Ishiguro. It won’t be the last, but only because I’ve read some great reviews on his other works.
I enjoyed his voice, but the novel was slow and plodding. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I realized how little actually happened. Much of the first half is spent watching Banks navigate the social scene and interact with a certain ambitious girl. Eventually Banks returns to Shanghai, his childhood home and the last place he saw his parents. It is only towards the end of the novel that there is some excitement and drama in his quest.
For all his present and professional focus on details and facts, Bank’s own memories are fuzzy and unreliable. His character is quite detached and solitary, even to the end.
Ultimately, it is not a book I would recommend.