I have always loved reading novels. And amongst novels, mysteries have a special place in my heart. I began with the Famous Five and Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton and that started an affair with mysteries that continues to this date. My latest favourites in this area are the thrillers and mysteries translated from Japanese. Japanese mysteries have such intricate plotting and ingenious twists that have always left me in awe of the writers. So much so, that I started learning the language because the translations wouldn’t be published fast enough!
Here is a list of some of my favourite Japanese mysteries and thrillers that I have enjoyed to the utmost:
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Sōji Shimada
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders is the first novel to feature his detective Kiyoshi Mitarai. Mitarai sets to solve a locked room murder mystery that has remained unsolved for a very long time. A painter named Umezawa, who was a dabbler in alchemy and astrology, was found murdered in his locked studio. Found inside was also a letter in which he had written about his devilish plan to create a life like goddess by using the body parts of the women from his household. Soon after his death, the women of his family also went missing. When their bodies were recovered, it was clear that their murders were in accordance to the letter. But if Umezawa died before he could put his crazy scheme to action, who did it? This unsolved mystery is solved by Mitarai and trust me, you will be blown away by the solution.
Malice by Keigo Higashino
While Keigo Higashino became an international sensation because of his novel The Devotion of Suspect X, nothing beats Malice for me. Malice is a slow burn mystery, full of such insidious twists and turns that you are bound to be glued to it till you are done. When the bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hikada is murdered in his locked house just the evening before he was supposed to relocate to Canada, suspicion falls on his best friend Osamu Nonugunchi. But what is the motive? Professional jealousy? Personal hatred? Were they even friends? Even after Nonuguchi confesses to the murder, the game continues and the cat and mouse chase makes this novel really interesting to read.
The Tattoo Murder by Akimitsu Takagi
Kinue Nomura has one of the most intricate tattoo arts on her body and is the mistress of one of the leading notorious criminals in the city. And yet, when young Kenzo meets her, he cannot help but fall in love with her. Soon after a clandestine visit to her house, when she is found murdered, Kenzo is devastated. Even more so, because he is supposed to help his elder brother who is handling the case and he doesn’t know of Kenzo’s involvement with the woman. But why was she murdered? Was it because of the bizarre story behind the tattoo on her back? Everything seems to be pointing in that direction but soon this novel becomes full of so many twists and turns that will keep you guessing.
The Master Key by Masako Togawa
The Master Key is a mystery that will keep you engrossed from beginning to end. It begins with an accident of a man who is dressed in women’s clothes. There is a kidnapping, burial of a child’s dead body, a stolen violin and at the centre of this all is the K Apartment for Ladies. At the K Apartment the past entangles with the present, bringing out hidden crimes from history. Not fast paced, this is still a plot driven mystery whose solution might well surprise you.
Confessions by Kanae Minato
Confessions is a tale of revenge. When the students of a teacher kill her four year old daughter, she decided to leave her job. But not before she has avenged her daughter’s death. And yet, this plan for revenge ends up having far greater repercussions than she had thought. Told through various narrators, different perspectives and different points of view, Confessions make for compulsive and a chilling reading.
Have you ever loved a genre so much you learned a language? Thanks to Sneha Pathak for an amazing guest blog.