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  • A classic of Japanese detective literature

    Yokomizo Seishi (1902-1981) was a Japanese mystery novelist. He’s especially known for his series of stories featuring young detective Kosuke Kindaichi (77 total). His influence can still be seen today in many authors. Among them, Kanari Yozaburo who took inspiration for his manga (and anime) series Kindaichi Shōnen no Jikenbo (featuring the fictitious grandson of Kosuke Kindaichi) or Aoyama Gosho, author of the Metantei Conan series. In spite of his influence, he has seldom been translated. Part of his works have been published in French, but none in English as far as I know, until now. The Case of the Honjin Murders is the first story featuring Kosuke Kindaichi, and is considered a classic. In 1937, at the large mansion of the Ichiyanagi family, the wedding of the eldest son and heir, Kenzo, is being prepared. Meanwhile, a strange vagrant missing two fingers on one hand is seen at a nearby village. Several members of the family are present at the ceremony, during which the koto, a 13 string musical instrument, is played, as it is traditional in the family. The ceremony then ends with a celebration of the couple by the locals. Later that night, a cacophony of koto and screams is heard across the mansion. Members of the family rush outside to the annex in which the couple’s bedroom is located. As it is locked from the inside, they have to force their way in, and they discover the couple brutally murdered. The katana used to commit the crime is found outside, in the middle of the garden, on a coat of snow, with no footprints around. A perfect locked room mystery. While the police looks for the vagrant, the late bride’s suspicious uncle calls for his protégé, young detective Kosuke Kindaichi. The book was a great read. It has been translated in English in quite an adequate style by Louise Heal Kawai. We can feel the contagious enthusiasm of the young detective jump from the pages, and share the bafflement of the police and other protagonists while he unravels the intricate mystery. The story is narrated after the fact by an « author of detective novels », allowing Yokomizo Seishi to introduce us to his own influences from occidental and Japanese mystery authors. This is a book that will be enjoyed both by Agatha Christie lovers, and fans of mystery manga and anime such as those I’ve referenced above. I hope Pushkin Press will continue their effort in adapting all further entries in the series. Thanks to Pushkin Press and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for this unbiased review.

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  • The Case of the Missing Pages

    A period detective novel set in pre 2nd world war Japan marred by missing pages all the way through. You do get to find out whodunnit but feeling frustrated by the clues you have missed. The poor review is for the incomplete book as I haven't been able to read the full version.

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