The Honjin Murders by Seishi YokomizoThe Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Translator: Louise Heal Kawai
Narrator: Akira Matsumoto
Series: Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #1
Published by Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd on September 1, 2021 (first published 1946)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 5 hrs 10 mins
Pages: 189
Format: Audiobook
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One of Japan's greatest classic murder mysteries, introducing their best loved detective, translated into English for the first time.

In the winter of 1937, the village of Okamura is abuzz with excitement over the forthcoming wedding of a son of the grand Ichiyanagi family. But amid the gossip over the approaching festivities, there is also a worrying rumour - it seems a sinister masked man has been asking questions around the village.

Then, on the night of the wedding, the Ichiyanagi household are woken by a terrible scream, followed by the sound of eerie music. Death has come to Okamura, leaving no trace but a bloody samurai sword, thrust into the pristine snow outside the house. Soon, amateur detective Kosuke Kindaichi is on the scene to investigate what will become a legendary murder case, but can this scruffy sleuth solve a seemingly impossible crime?

The Honjin Murders, set in 1937 in a rural Japanese village, is told by an unnamed narrator who is telling what he learned from the people close to the crime. The eldest son of a wealthy family was marrying a beautiful, talented, but lower-class, woman. But on the wedding night, the family heard terrible screams coming from the bedroom of the newlywed couple, the door and the windows were locked, and the couple was found stabbed to death. Detective Kindaichi was summoned by the bride’s uncle, to investigate the double murders.

While the characters are not well-developed, we get a definite feel for the culture and traditions of the time. The plot was intricate and had several twists. The narrator plays fair with us, even going so far as to point at what is significant and what can be ignored.

I can’t say I love a good locked-room mystery. The murder method can get a little overly complicated, which quite honestly was the case here too, but the motive was fascinating and rather awful. Overall, it was a good read. I listened to the audiobook which worked well for me. I find it a little easier to keep track of Japanese names and places when I hear them rather than see them.

About Seishi Yokomizo

Seishi Yokomizo (24 May 1902 – 28 December 1981) was a Japanese mystery novelist, known for creating the fictional detective Kosuke Kindaichi. His works became the model for postwar Japanese mystery writing. He was also often called the “Japanese John Dickson Carr” after the writer whom he admired. Many of his works have been made into movies.


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