Book review: 『影の告発』by Takao Tsuchiya

Cover of “Kage no kokuhatsu”. It’s difficult to identify what is on the cover. We have a white background and a massive black form painted on it, but I can’t say what it represents. In the center of the black form, there is a white rectangle with the black figure of a man upside down in it.

Title: 『影の告発』(かげのこくはつ)
Author: Takao TSUCHIYA (土屋隆夫)
Published by 講談社文庫

『影の告発』is the first book in the Prosecutor Chigusa series (千草検事シリーズ), it won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1963.

When a man is killed in the elevator of a department store full of people, the police has surprisingly little to get going: a visit card left in the elevator and an old photograph


If you like police investigation, this book is for you! There is nothing really original or mind blowing in this book, but it delivers exactly what the reader of detective novels is looking for and it does it very well.

The story is very straightforward, we have a murder at the beginning of the story, and then we follow the prosecutor and the detectives as they investigate the case.

The book contains everything you want to find in a good investigation like interrogating persons related to the case, digging up the past, putting clues together… with things culminating in an epic alibi war. We also have the bonus of the mystery of the visiting card, which was very engrossing in itself.

Funny thing is that the alibi part reminded me of scenes that I have read in Conan, and now I wonder if this particular scene in Gosho Aoyama’s manga was not a reference/homage to Takao Tsuchiya.

Every aspect of the investigation is well described and engrossing, the book always goes straight to the point and focuses entirely on the case, which makes the book a real page turner. This is exactly the kind of police investigation that I enjoy reading, and I will continue the series!

Book review: 『細い赤い糸』by Takashi Asuka

Cover of the book 細い赤い糸. The cover is black with the drawing of a woman (head only) looking to the left. There is also the drawing of what I identify as the lower body of a woman (we only see the legs and the skirt). The composition is quite strange with the head on the left, and the lower body sort of hanging from the top border of the cover.

Title: 細い赤い糸 (ほそいあかいいと)
Author: Takashi Asuka (飛鳥高)
Published by Kodansha bunko

細い赤い糸 won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1962.


When I read a mystery, I always jump into the story without reading the synopsis and without having any knowledge of the plot. I do this because I had some bad experiences with summaries on the back cover revealing too much, sometimes mentioning events that would only take place halfway through the book. I also like reading without knowing where the story would take me.

With this novel however, I wish I had read about the story before starting it. I was really close to giving it up halfway through, because I could not see where the story was going and the experience was a bit frustrating.

If you don’t want to know anything about the story of this book before reading it, you should stop reading this review now. However, I do think that this book is more enjoyable if you know where you are going.

This book opens with a story of corruption in a company. To be honest, I really had a hard time getting into the first chapter, we don’t know much about the corruption thing, and the novel just does not tell us enough about it to make us care. Same for the characters, I did not really care about them, and their actions seemed unconvincing because we don’t know them at all. I did not like the first chapter, but I was willing to wait and see.

Then the second chapter starts with completely different characters who have nothing to do with the first story. It felt frustrating because I was doing my best to find some interest in the first story, and we suddenly leave them here and switch to another story which I found equally difficult to get into. At this point, I was really tempted to give up the book, but the end of the second chapter finally reveals what it is all about: a serial killing.

This is the main point of the book. We get through four different stories and see four different characters who are all going to be a victim. The focus of the book is to know why they are killed and what could possibly link them together. I do think that if you know that before starting the novel, things becomes much more interesting as you can start looking for clues right from the beginning. It also makes sense, in a way, that each story seems rushed through, because the main topic lies elsewhere.

When I understood where the book was leading me, I started enjoying it much more. However, I also do think that, while the idea is excellent, the execution could have been better done. First, I find the book too short for its purpose. I would have been better if each story was a little bit more developed so that they would be interesting for themselves and not just as a part of a higher scheme. I also find that something should hold all these stories together. At the end of each chapter, we see the police investigating and eventually understanding that they are dealing with a serial killer, but these parts are very short, and you start seeing a pattern only at the end of the second chapter (at this point, we are more than 40% into the book).

Finally, the book just does not give enough clues. It is not impossible for the reader to work the solution for themselves, but you can only do that after a certain point, when some key elements are finally given. It would have been so much better if more clues had been laid all along, so that reading each story would have been more compelling. I could even see myself re-reading one of the first chapters to look for connections, but I felt that you cannot really see the link before the novel gives you some key information.

In the end, the solution turned out to be quite good, and I loved the last 25% of the book, when we are done with the different stories and follow the police investigation. I found this part very engrossing and I liked the solution as well. I just found that it was a bit unfair to the reader, as the story does not disclose some key elements until the end and some connections are difficult to make without them.

Book review: 『人喰い』by Saho Sasazawa

The cover of 人喰い. The cover is very simple: on a completely black background, two thick horizontal blue lines and the name of the author and the title of the book written in red on the black background. No illustration.

Quick facts

Title: 『人喰い』(ひとぐい)
Author: Saho Sasazawa (笹沢佐保)
Digital edition published by P+D Books

『人喰い』won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1961. After winning the prize, Saho Sasazawa resigned from his post at the Postal Ministry to become a full-time writer.


『人喰い』is a short novel with a simple plot and a small number of characters. We follow Sakiko, whose elder sister has disappeared, leaving a suicide note. The story is very straightforward, the narration rarely switches focus and the investigation mostly relies on deduction more than clues or interrogation of witnesses.

I really enjoyed this book, especially because the last winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award I read was going in too many directions in my opinion: there were a lot of different topics, different leads and motives, no consistency in the characters we followed. As a result, I appreciated the simpler line of this one, even though one could also argue that it has too few characters, which makes the outcome a bit foreseeable.

Sakiko’s means to investigate are very limited, so a good part of her investigation is based on reflexion, with scenes where we see her think about the case through and through, testing eventualities and work her way to the truth. I found these parts well done and enjoyable to read.

The end was also very good, and overall, it was a very pleasant read, though part of me also find it surprising that it won the Award (the book is good, but there is really nothing special in it either). Maybe I am expecting too much from the award winners and end up a bit disappointed as a result? Anyway, it is still a nice mystery that I recommend if you like the genre.

Book review: 『黒い白鳥』by Tetsuya Ayukawa

Cover of the book 黒い白鳥. The cover is red with the title and author in a white rectangle in the middle. Also in the rectangle, a drawing of a railway track with a tran in the distance and the figure of a man in the foreground.

Title: 『黒い白鳥』(くろいはくちょう)
Author: Tetsuya Ayukawa (鮎川哲也)
Published by Kobunsha.

『黒い白鳥』is the fourth book in the Chief Inspector Onitsura (鬼貫警部) series, a series of 17 novels and numerous short stories spanning more than 30 years.

Both this novel and another Onitsura book won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1960.


The mystery/police investigation in this novel is very good, the solution is clever, with one trick in particular that I found excellent, and the reader is given all the elements they need to participate.

The mystery mostly resolves around train timetables, and unfortunately, I was too lazy to really try to work out a solution by myself. While this might be the main reason why I did not enjoy this novel as much as expected, there are also other elements that prevented me from feeling engrossed in the story.

First of all, I found that the novel throws several leads at us but does not really commit to any of them. The first one, which looks like it is going to play an important role in the story, is the trade union and negotiations between the company and the workers. Then we have religion playing a role with employees asking for freedom of religion (this took me a while to understand, because I was not aware that a company could impose a religion on its employees!). This makes for a complex and interesting setting for a murder story, but the story then moves on to other topics and we never really come back to this interesting setting.

Similar thing happens with the characters. The story opens with two women, one of which will clearly play a role in the story. We leave her in a difficult situation, but we won’t see her again until much later in the novel. Most of the novel is told from the point of view of the police detectives, but at some point, we follow other characters for a short sequence, and go back to following detectives. Even the detectives are split in two groups, and this did not really work for me (I prefer following the same duo of detectives from beginning to end, rather than follow one duo and then abruptly switch to another).

I also felt that the real purpose of a lot of scenes was the social aspect of what was described rather than the investigation itself, which sometimes felt a bit arduous. It often felt like the author just wanted to describe something, be it a place, a movement (like the labour movement), a professional area, etc. for the sake of the description rather than to advance the plot. The novel explores a lot of different social classes, and some passages felt like describing all of this was the real purpose of the book, and the investigation just a means to do it. So sometimes, we will have a long description of a certain place and little useful information relative to the case.

This makes for a good social novel, and it is great if you want to have a picture of the time, but it also felt frustrating to go through so many steps and descriptions just to confirm that what a certain character had said was true, or something of the sort.

I do think that this is a good detective novel overall, I just did not enjoy reading it that much. The end was good though, and I don’t regret reading it nor was I tempted to DNF it. However, I did not make me want to read the other prize winner of the same year (same author, same series), and I doubt that I will continue the Onitsura series.

『七つの会議』by Jun Ikeido

Cover of the book 七つの会議. The cover is beige with a darker drawing of a long table seen from above with empty chairs around it.

Quick Facts

Like most (or maybe all?) books by Jun Ikeido, 『七つの会議』got a TV adaptation. Contrary to the other novels I have read by this author, this one is not much about banks and loans.

Title: 『七つの会議』(ななつのかいぎ)
Author: Jun Ikeido (池井戸潤)
Published by Shueisha


Tokyo Kenden is an old-school company where sales and profit matter more than anything else. Everyone is shocked when a complaint of power harassment is made against the company’s top sales manager… but several employees sense that something else is going on.

This is an ensemble cast, where each chapter is devoted to a different character. Except for one character, they are all employees at Tokyo Kenden.

I find that this structure brings interesting elements to the novel. First, we see different aspects of the company, and we approach the problem from different perspectives. Some characters are right in the middle of the plot, others will risk their career to discover the truth. We see the company as a whole and how each employee contribute to making it work, and contribute to revealing (or hiding!) what is really going on.

What I really like is that the author gives a background for each character. Their story, their past, their personality influence their action. Sometimes it is their career, sometimes their family, but they all have a reason for acting like they do and make the choices they make. This is interesting, as we see both the company as a whole and how each individual influence it.

The problem with this ensemble cast structure, is that it is difficult to identify with one character, and the story was less engrossing to me as a result. It also did not have this fight-for-justice energy that other books have. The other two books I read by Ikeido are 『空飛ぶタイヤ』and 『アキラとあきら』and both books were a rollercoaster of emotions. In comparison, I found that I was much less involved in 『七つの会議』, which is strange because it reads like a mystery, which is my favourite genre.

Overall, the story is excellent, and it is not hard to imagine that fiction might not be very far from reality. But to me, this novel lacked something compared to the other two. I was not as emotionally involved, and I did not care about the characters as much. I also found that one chapter (the third one), was strangely disconnected and not as interesting as the other ones.

Book review: 『四万人の目撃し』by Yorichika Arima

Quick facts

Title: 『四万人の目撃者』(よんまんにんのもくげきしゃ)
Author: Yorichika Arima (有馬頼義)
Published by Kobunsha

Yorichika Arima has written several detective novels, often described as social detective novels.

『四万人の目撃者』belongs to the prosecutor Takayama series. It won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1959.

Mystery Writers of Japan Award – PROJECT – I read this book as part of my project to read all the winners of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award (at least, the books that are available today). Follow my progress here!


This book started with a very strong and intriguing setting: a baseball player falls during a match and dies soon after. 40,000 people witnessed his death which looks like a sudden cardiac arrest. Yet, prosecutor Takayama is not convinced, and even though nothing indicates foul play, he starts investigating.

The story has several different, but equally exciting, starting elements. First, the difficulty to lead an investigation when there is no official case and therefore, no real police support or justification to talk to people and ask questions.

Then obviously, there was the mystery of the ”how”. If there is murder, how was it done, given that 40,000 persons had their eyes on the field the whole time.

And finally, we had to find out who did it. There were different leads (work, family, baseball team) and different motives possible.

Unfortunately, none of these interesting elements turned out to be satisfactory. The investigation led by Takayama was a bit frustrating in my opinion. There are obvious key characters in this case whom he never speaks to because the investigation is not official. I also found the pace very slow, the investigation makes little progress, with limited clues and elements to work with. There are elements to pick up the pace (like the sudden disappearance of a character), but these elements always turn out to be disappointing in the end. In contrast with the general slow pace of the investigation, Takayama sometimes jumps to conclusions or finds a new lead of investigation without real support for it. For example, there is this threat of an incoming second murder that preoccupies Takayama during some parts of the book, but I am not sure I understood on which basis he anticipated a second murder. Maybe I missed it, but the whole thing felt unconvincing to me.

As for the ”how” the murder was done, I found it extremely underwhelming. I thought that maybe, the particularities of the baseball field and where the players were placed at what moment would play a role, but it is not this kind of mystery at all.

And as for ”who” did it, the mystery is even more underwhelming if possible. There is no real mystery or twist or surprising development. The investigation tends towards one obvious character and follows a straight line.

Finally, we follow a baseball player who becomes some sort of main character (apart from the investigation team), and I found these parts quite boring. At first, this character was closely linked to the case, so following him was interesting, but after some time, he becomes more and more disconnected with the case and the parts where he appears became more and more annoying to me. I could not care at all for him and his problems, be it his baseball career or his love relationship.

To conclude, this book is not really a satisfactory detective novel if you judge it from the point of view of the mystery. It is a more social and realistic depiction of the time and environment (here mainly, the baseball team and career aspiration of the players). I liked for example the description of forensic methods of the time, and the limitations it had. Unfortunately, I am not at all interested in baseball. If it can help to solve a murder, I am more than willing to study the rules and particularities of a baseball game, but just talking baseball for the sake of it was not that appealing to me (and the book also did not triggered my interest nor did it make me want to find out more about baseball, on the contrary!).

So if you like baseball, maybe you will enjoy this book more than I did, but I still think that the mystery and detective parts were too underwhelming to really keep a reader engrossed in the novel until the end, even a baseball fan.

Book review: 『顔』by Seicho Matsumoto


Title: 『顔』(かお)
Author: Seicho Matsumoto (松本清張)
Published by Kadokawa
Available on Booklive

Seicho Matsumoto is known for popularising detective fiction, with several of his books translated into English and adapted into films. The short story 顔 won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1957. The collection I read contains 5 short stories: 顔、張込み、声、地方紙を買う女、白い闇. Some of these stories have been translated into English by Adam Kabat and compiled into the collection The Voice and Other Stories.

Mystery Writers of Japan Award – PROJECT – I read this book as part of my project to read all the winners of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award (at least, the books that are available today). Follow my progress here!


This collection of short stories is one of the most entertaining collection of mysteries I have read. The prize winner, 顔, was certainly the best story, but all are excellent and if you like one, you will probably like the others too.

Both 顔 and 地方紙を買う女 were similar in structure. We have a protagonist who is clearly hiding something, but we don’t know what it is at first. These two stories are my favourite, because it creates a tension between caring for the protagonist on the one hand and looking for the truth on the other hand. The reader does not know whether they should identify with the protagonist or keep a suspicious eye on them, and this makes for suspenseful and entertaining stories. 顔 in particular has a very good ending, and belongs now to my favourite short stories of crime fiction.

声 has a similar theme than 顔, where recognition (of a person’s voice or face) plays a role in the mystery. The two stories also have a similar structure with two different parts. While 声 did not have the same impact than 顔 it was still very good with an interesting police investigation in it as well.

白い闇 is a mystery about a husband who suddenly disappears. Even though the outcome is predictable, the story was enjoyable.

Finally, 張り込み is certainly my least favourite short story, but it was still very good, though quite depressive at the end.

Overall, the characters are all very complex for characters of short stories. Some are tormented by a dark past, some want to protect their secrets and some want to find out the truth. As for the Japanese level, this book is certainly the easiest I have read so far among the prize winners.

I will definitely check out Matsumoto’s other books!

Book review: 『狐の鶏』by Jokichi Hikage 

Quick facts

Title: 『狐の鶏』(きつねのとり)
Author: Jokichi Hikage (日影丈吉)
Published by Kodansha
216 pages

Jokichi Hikage has written a lot of short stories and novels, including a detective series called ハイカラ右京, but only a couple of titles have been translated into English.

The short story 狐の鶏 won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1956. The book I am reviewing contain five short stories: 狐の鶏、ねずみ、犬の生活、王とのつきあい、東天紅.

Mystery Writers of Japan Award – PROJECT – I read this book as part of my project to read all the winners of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award (at least, the books that are available today). Follow my progress here!


The first short story, the prize winner 狐の鶏, was certainly the most impactful to me, and the one that stands out from the collection. The story follows Shinji, the second son, who came back from the war only to take his elder brother’s place, who did not return. It took me a while to understand the characters’ relationship with each other because the story contains what is called levirate marriage (when a man, whose brother has died, is forced to marry his brother’s widow – and in the story, also to adopt his child). I was quite shocked to read this kind of arrangement practised in post-war Japan.

The story is a mystery and falls in the category of what we would call today a psychological thriller. I read it for the mystery, but it is the setting, the characters and the helplessness of Shinji’s situation that I found really interesting and gripping.

The second story is set during the war, in Taipei, and was also quite a heavy read with a very shocking and terrible end.

After reading these two stories, I felt like I needed a break from this book, and came back after reading lighter and more joyful things. However, the other short stories were less dark. 犬の生活 felt more like a classic police investigation, and 王とのつきあい was more a horror story. I really loved this one, it is suspenseful and delightedly horrific, with another impactful end.

I found the stories that are set in the countryside, 狐の鶏 and 東天紅 to be the most difficult to read in Japanese. I guess it comes from the vocabulary and the dialogues that are more challenging to me because of the dialect. The other ones were good for my level.

Overall, I was not expecting such a heavy read for a mystery book. My favourite stories are 狐の鶏 and 王とのつきあい, but I don’t thing that I will jump into another book by this author just yet.

Book review: 『不連続殺人事件』by Ango Sakaguchi


Title: 『不連続殺人事件』(ふれんぞくさつじんじけん)
Author: Ango Sakaguchi (坂口安吾)
Published by Kadokawa
323 pages

First published in 1947, 『不連続殺人事件』is Ango Sakaguchi’s first detective novel. It won the Mystery Writers of Japan Awards in 1948.

The novel is available on Aozora.

There is a French translation by Estelle Figon: Meurtres sans série, published by Les Belles Lettres.

Mystery Writers of Japan Award – PROJECT – I read this book as part of my project to read all the winners of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award (at least, the books that are available today). Follow my progress here!


Famous figures of the decadent literary circles of post-war Japan find themselves, as well as some uninvited guests, in the family house of the Utagawas. Many of these guests cannot stand each other and this chaotic reunion soon witnesses a series of strange and scary murders.

When the book was first serialised in 1947, the author challenged the readers to find the murderer before the publication of the last chapters. He offered a financial prize, and challenged by name several personalities of the time as well as the fictional police officers of his novel. And of course, any reader could participate.

The fact that one reader of the time was able to give a perfect answer to Sakaguchi’s challenge shows that we have all the elements we need to solve the mystery. Sakaguchi himself insists on that point several times: we, the reader, are given all the elements to solve the crimes. As such, this is a perfect whodunnit, which I think is quite rare. As Ango Sakaguchi said when he revealed the names of the winners, many detective novels are disappointing, and even though I would not go as far as saying that 99,99% of them fall into this category, 『不連続殺人事件』surely does not.


To find the solution, we are provided with everything that the police officers of the novel have access to. Unfortunately, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of information we are given. This is what happened to me, and this is why I decided to read the novel in parallel with the French translation. The Japanese was quite difficult to begin with, but trying to sort every bit of information and lead my own investigation was almost impossible to do in Japanese: too many characters (all introduced at the same time!), too many murders, too many alibis to verify and too many clues.


To give you an example of what I mean by too much information, this is the map that is provided by the author. Floor and building maps play an important role in detective novels, but I have always assumed that they were there to help the reader, not confuse them 🤔 When Ango Sakaguchi says that we have access to the same elements than the characters, he means it literally. This is the “real” map of the villa, not a simplified version made for the reader. (I have read a lot of detective novels, but I never saw a map with 56 indications!)

But… you have no choice but to investigate yourself, because no one else is doing it. There are police officers and even a character who is here as a detective, but they never investigate, or if they do, we don’t see them doing it. As such, this novel differs from classic detective novels where we follow the investigation of the fictional detective. The role of the police is clearly to give us, readers, all the elements we need. They appear after the murder to collect every character’s alibis but then, they just don’t do anything with this information. Even the other characters do not seem particularly interested in solving the crime, and our narrator does not do much either.

This is barely surprising, given that most of them are writers. As one character states in the novel, writers are similar to criminals, not to detectives (it follows that it is the reader who should assume the role of the detective):


And the characters of this novel are not easy people to be with. Some of them cannot stand each other and make it clear every time they have an occasion to do so. They are arrogant, proud, rude and even insulting when addressing certain characters, if not violent. They are constantly quarrelling, and to be honest, the dialogues and the relations between the characters were the most difficult things to understand in Japanese to me.

This is why I made a character map (pdf) for anyone who wants to read this book in Japanese. The story is very complex and if you don’t have a clear vision of people’s relationships to each other (attraction, resentment, general dislike), then the story and the dialogues become very difficult to understand.

I did not manage to find the solution, but I had fun trying to. I wish that Ango Sakaguchi had written more detective novels…

Finally, I should add that I found Estelle Figon’s translation to be truly excellent. The text is full of pep and a real delight to read!

Korean mini book reviews #1

This blog is mainly dedicated to learning and reading in Japanese, but I am also a Korean learner! My reading level in Korean is lower than my Japanese level, but I am trying to improve by practicing. I don’t want to write full book reviews of the Korean books I read, so I decided to group several books in one post.

아몬드 by 손원평

This book is about Yunjae, who has a brain condition that makes it impossible for him to feel emotions or to identify and understand other people’s emotions. This is a coming-of-age novel that is extremely well done.

To me, the most interesting point is that Yunjae is our narrator, we see the world through his eyes, but he cannot comment on or sympathise with other people’s feelings. And in this novel, the other characters are each in their own way a whirlpool of contradictory emotions. Yunjae’s mother is an incredibly interesting character, Gon, Yunjae’s friend, must be suffering more than we can really grasp, Gon’s father is lost in a turmoil of contradictory feelings. But again, we are only able to take a glimpse at the characters’ struggles through random observations by Yunjae, which makes the novel even more gripping.

I was not a big fan of the end to be honest, this is why I only gave it 4 stars. This book has been recommended by several members of BTS, and is a huge best-seller in Korea.

Level: This book was on the easy side, but there were some passages that can feel more challenging (especially towards the end). Given that this book has been translated into English, I think that it is great for Korean learners, as you can read it in parallel if needed.

English translation: Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn, translated by Joosun Lee, published by Harper Collins.

보건교사 안은영 by 정세랑

Eunyeong An, the school nurse at M school, can see the lingering desires of people and dead people which show themselves as jellies. Some of them can have a bad influence on the school and the students. Together with Inpyo Hong, teacher of classical Chinese, she will protect the school from evil jellies.

This novel has been adapted into drama by Netflix, and I really recommend to watch the drama and read the book together. I find that the drama brings a lot to the atmosphere and actress Yumi Jung really gives life to Eunyeong.

In the novel, each chapter is devoted to a different case or a different character. I really love that the drama mixed different cases together and makes several things happen at the same time. For example, in the drama, the story of the child on the playground and the story of Eunyeong’s former classmate are intertwined with the story of the mite eater. I found this very good, as they all relate to Eunyeong’s helplessness when she realises that she cannot help everyone. In the book, these are three completely different stories in different chapters.

Overall, this book was both weird and fun, there is a lot of humour in the book that could not be transported in the drama. But to be honest, the story was way too fantastic to me, and I enjoyed the more realistic episodes more than the more fantastic ones. I would certainly have DNFed it, if it weren’t for the drama. Great book, just not for me.

As for the level, this book was really difficult to read for me, mainly because it is a work of fantasy with things that do not make much sense, and it is harder to fill the blanks. I find that realistic fiction is easier to read for language learners, because you can guess a lot of the things you don’t understand. Again, watching the Netflix drama really helps, so I recommend doing both!

네 번의 노크 by 케이시

A murder has taken place on the third floor of a residential building, a floor that is dedicated to women. Six appartements, six doors, six women, all suspects in this case.

I found the setting of this mystery to be very exciting. The structure of the book is interesting too: it is mainly composed by the testimonies of each suspect to the police, and we get to read their statements.

At first, there were interesting leads, I was wondering who was lying, trying to look for clues in what each woman said. There were also indications that footsteps and time would play a part, and this raised my expectations for a good whodunnit. Unfortunately, I felt that all these clues did not really lead anywhere and the mystery kind of sorted itself naturally, and even the final twist did not manage to satisfy the avid reader of mysteries that I am.

This being said, this was still an enjoyable read and it was very good for a debut novel. I will certainly check out this author’s next mysteries!

Level: Overall, this novel is rather easy to read, but I would not recommend it if you are not already used to reading in Korean, because the book is a succession of long monologues. It is interesting for the story, but the structure of the book makes it also quite monotone to read. I also find that dialogues are easier to read for language learners, and they are quasi non-existant in this book. Moreover, one character (the one living at 301) is significantly more difficult to understand than the others.

An audiobook version is available on 윌라 (welaaa). I personally read the book and listened to the audiobook at the same time, and it helps a lot to the comprehension. If you can afford the subscription, Welaaa is a great way to have access to audiobooks and classes on various topics in Korean.

일의 기쁨과 슬픔 by 장류진 

This is a collection of short stories, where we see people in all kinds of situations where they have to deal with colleagues, work, or unexpected events.

The characters we see in these stories all hold onto their set of values, which often lead them to misinterpret a situation or misjudge others. Some stories are funny, some sad, but they all feel very relatable and engaging. This was an entertaining read that also made me think a lot. It is one of my favourite books read in Korean so far, and I highly recommend it.

Level: All the stories are easy to read, I believe that among books for adults, this one belongs to the easiest you could find. The fact that these are short stories makes it also easier to read for language learners as you don’t have to commit to a 300 pages-long novel. The stories deal with everyday life and work situations.

One of the short stories has been adapted into a drama special by KBS. I believe you can watch it one the KBS site, but it might depend on your country.