The Devil’s Flute Murders by Seishi YokomizoThe Devil's Flute Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Translator: Jim Rion
Narrator: Akira Matsumoto
Series: Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #8
Published by Bolinda Audio on April 1, 2024 (first published 1953)
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Length: 11 hrs 5 mins
Pages: 355
Format: Audiobook
Purchase at or Audible
Add on Goodreads

An ingenious and highly atmospheric classic whodunit from Japan’s master of crime.

Amid the rubble of post-war Tokyo, inside the grand Tsubaki house, a once-noble family is in mourning.

The old viscount Tsubaki, a brooding, troubled composer, has been found dead.

When the family gather for a divination to conjure the spirit of their departed patriarch, death visits the house once more, and the brilliant Kosuke Kindaichi is called in to investigate.

But before he can get to the truth Kindaichi must uncover the Tsubakis’ most disturbing secrets, while the gruesome murders continue…

The Devil’s Flute Murders is set in 1947, as Japan continues its slow recovery from WWII. A young woman, Mineko, asks Kindaichi for help. Mineko’s father, Viscount Tsubaki, was found dead, apparently of suicide, but it seems that his ghost is haunting their family, especially her mother Akiko. It turns into a complex case with multiple murders, questions of ghostly visitation, a family history that must be explored, and many family members, friends, and servants living on the estate grounds.

It’s an atmospheric mystery, with the potential ghost, spooky music, even bad weather all playing into the feeling. The book is also full of period detail. Following the war, Japan is dealing with a lot, including planned blackouts, crowded trains with hard to obtain tickets, food shortages, and bombed and lost homes, some of which contribute to the plot.

I listened to the audio. The narrator did a good job with the pronunciations and accents, as far as I could tell, and with distinguishing the many characters.

Kindaichi is one of those detectives that notices things that others don’t, but always looks a bit disheveled, making him seem less competent than he is. I loved one specific clue that if he had noticed earlier probably would have solved the mystery in two chapters. The solution is a bit shocking and sad.

Overall, this a good, complicated mystery. There are not a lot of characters to actually like though, if that’s important to you. I didn’t really care about any of them, except maybe Mineko.

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.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.