Ring (Ring #1) by Koji Suzuki (1991; Vertical, 2004, 282pp.)
A reporter named Asakawa learns that his niece’s sudden death occurred after she watched a bizarre videotape. After finding and watching this same tape, he learns that he has seven days to solve the mystery presented in the tape’s contents before he, too, meets a similar fate. While the whole idea of a haunted videotape may find some readers rolling their eyes, Ring deserves applause for the execution of its premise. The mystery unfolds at a careful, brooding pace, and opts to unsettle readers with its creepy atmosphere rather than waste time with quick thrills. While most of the characters fall a little flat, readers will definitely be entertained by the antics of Asakawa’s friend Ryuji, an eccentric, Puck-like figure who helps in his search for answers. Ring was the inspiration for a successful franchise that includes the 1998 Japanese film, Ringu, and its 2002 American remake.
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