This is the first Japanese translation mystery that I have read, and this must be taken into account with regards to my ratings.
The first book of the reprints was The Honjin Murders. The story begins in a small town with the arrival of a disfigured man. This coincides with the marriage of one of the prominent families in the area. Soon after, death visits the family. This is followed by the arrival of an undistinguished child-like man who is the detective of this series. He is described in various ways, and although I do not have a clear picture of his positives, I can imagine the random intermittent stammer and the relentless head cratching. The story is short and swift. We are given constant indications of the ongoing events and kept in the loop at all times. If we do not see the answer coming, it is on us since the author clearly invites us to take a stab at the conclusion (pun maybe intended). I liked this story and the picture it threw up of long-ago Japan. There are so many bits hidden within the narrative of what was considered essential and how hierarchy was established.
The second book that I picked up in this series was convoluted, to say the least. I did not realise that it was almost double the size of the first that I read and kept waiting for it to end! This impacted my liking of the book a little.
I will be going into why this book was not for me, but still think die-hard fans of mysteries and older ones at that, may like it more than I did. Our detective makes an immediate appearance once the stage is set. We have been told a lot about the death of an important man and his background story. I felt like that tipped the hand a little since some of the same information was used as an ‘aha’ point later in the narrative because our detective did not know anything about it and no one told him. The large family finds themselves in shock when a will’s contents are revealed to them. Even before that happens, Detective Kindaichi has been called to the scene because a lawyer foresees trouble. The plot was interesting, and although I guessed certain things, others came as a surprise. What I had a problem with was the language and the nature of narration. I am not sure if it is the case with the original as well, or the translator literally translated everything. Sometimes the latter is useful, but in cases like this, it sounds like too much information about the scene all the time.
I found the graphic descriptions a little offputting with the rest of the tone. It is a good plot, and I highly recommend anyone interested in twisted family dynamics with murder at its core should give it a shot, it just wasn’t for me.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.