The Honjin Murders and The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo
Publisher: Pushkin Vertigo
Genre: Translated crime fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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?
I picked up The Honjin Murders on a whim, mostly because of the cover, and ended up completely addicted to this series. Featuring one of the great detectives of Japanese crime fiction, these books were so much fun to read and left me wanting more!
These books follow Kosuke Kindaichi, a brilliant detective, as he solves two mysterious murders. The Honjin Murders is a classic locked room mystery, while The Inugami Curse is a puzzle surrounding a murderous family after a great fortune. Both books have clever twists and solutions and are such satisfying mysteries, all heightened by the author’s foreboding writing style.
I admit I haven’t read a lot of crime fiction, but I can safely say that Kindaichi is probably my favourite fictional detective. He doesn’t fit the stereotype of fictional detectives that we think of today — the heavy drinking, gloomy, fairly unpleasant but brilliant men who are constantly showing up the police. Instead he is an odd, slightly goofy, and squeamish character who’s deductive powers feel more human than supernatural. He feels like a much more pleasant and realistic character than some of the great fictional detectives, past and present, and he’s a joy to read about.
I am totally addicted to the Kosuke Kindaichi books and I am impatiently awaiting the publication of the third book in December!
Content warnings: attempted rape, murder, misogyny (as fitting with the time period)
Want to start the series for yourself? You can pick up The Honjin Murders at the following sites (affiliate links):