Life Advice From a Foodie Serial Killer

a graphic of the cover of Butter

Butter: A Novel of Food and Murder by Asako Yuzuki, Translated by Polly Barton

Rika Machida is a Japanese journalist who feels stuck in her career, a job to which she’s dedicated most of her life. In Tokyo, she has a best friend who she doesn’t see as much as she would like and a boyfriend she sees even less. But when Manako Kajii, a female serial killer set to have a retrial to see if her conviction will be overturned, agrees to speak to her, Rika thinks this might just be her big break.

Kajii, a renowned cook, agrees to see her because Rika asked for Kajii’s recipe for beef stew. From their first conversation, Rika finds herself drawn to this charismatic woman full of unsettling things to say. But most of all, Kajii shares her love of food, relishing every morsel that she places in her mouth. Rika is introduced to a sensual world full of excellent dishes, especially decadent foods made with liberal amounts of butter. Through her relationship with Kajii, she begins to appreciate the world around her in new ways. She takes pleasure in the food she eats and begins to wonder if she actually likes the man she’s seeing. But what does it mean that a serial killer has inspired Rika to rethink her choices?

From the moment I started this audiobook (performed by Hanako Footman), I couldn’t stop listening. Like Rika, I found myself enraptured with Kajii as a character. She oozes charisma and seems so sure of herself. I, too, wanted to know what made this sinister woman tick and why everyone seems taken with her. And don’t get me started about all of the incredible food in this book! Noodles, decadent cheeses, and even a turkey dinner — Butter presents a smorgasbord of incredible dishes with mouthwatering descriptions.

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