Book review: 『完全犯罪に猫は何匹必要か?』by Tokuya Higashigawa


Title: 『完全犯罪に猫は何匹必要か?』(かんぜんはんざいにねこはなんびきひつようか?)
Author: Tokuya Higashigawa (東川篤哉)
Published by 光文社文庫
458 pages.

This is the third novel in the Ikagawa series (烏賊川市シリーズ), a comical detective series featuring private detective Morio Ukai. Ukai might be the worst fictional detective I know, but he somehow manages to solve murder cases in spite of his dubious deductions.


It took me some time to get into the story, but it turned out to be very good: a captivating murder mystery with alibis that are too good to be true and weird witness statements. I found the story excellent, but similarly to the second book of the story, I also did not always connect with scenes that only serve the comical aspect of the book.

This series feature two sets of characters: private detective Morio Ukai and his assistant Ryuhei Tomura on one side, and chief inspector Sunagawa and his subordinate detective Shiki on the other side.

I always found interesting that this series does not follow the pattern ”genius detective vs incompetent police officers”. Here the police detectives are actually quite good, and in this novel in particular, they are the ones who do all the job, and private detective Ukai looks more like a secondary character than the protagonist of the series.

I found the parts were we follow Sunagawa and Shiki to be much more interesting than the ones with Morio and Ryuhei. First, the police detectives are investigating a murder, whereas our private detective’s mission in this novel is to find a missing cat. Moreover, I found that some scenes featuring Morio Ukai and his team were often serving a comical purpose only and did not add much to the story.

The title of the book was very intriguing, but it turns out that this book is more about lucky cats than real cats…

When it comes to comical effects, I find that there are two types in this novel. The first type is when a scene that serves the plot and the investigation is told in a comical way. For example the scene when chief inspector Sunagawa asks witnesses to report on what they saw at different hours is described as if Sunagawa was an auctioneer trying to sell those said hours. I found this creative and very funny to read. The second type are scenes that are here just to add humour to the novel but which do not serve the story. For example, when Ukai fights with his landlady. I felt that this type of scenes would look great if the book was an anime, but I did not really enjoy reading them.

Overall, the murder case is excellent and engrossing, and while I found the humour partly good, partly unnecessary, it all comes down to a question of personal taste in the end. But comical effects aside, the author really has great ideas when it comes to writing murder mysteries, and this alone makes me want to continue the series.

Book review: 『密室に向かって撃て!』 by Tokuya Higashigawa


Title: 『密室に向かって撃て!』(みっしつにむかってうて)
Author: Tokuya HIGASHIGAWA (東川篤哉)
Published by 光文社文庫
354 pages

This is the second book in the series 烏賊川市 (Ikagawa), a humoristic, detective series. It is best to read the book in order as the second book refers to the first one at numerous times.

Short Review

Fans of the series and fans of the detective genre will enjoy it, but there are a lot of repetitions, and the humoristic scenes tend to take over the story at the cost of a more engrossing investigation.

Long Review

As much as I loved the first book of the series (密室の鍵貸します), I was a little disappointed in this second book.

Before starting this review, let me say that there are a lot of recurring characters in this second novel, and the book keeps hinting at what happened in the first novel 『密室の鍵貸します』. Fortunately, it does not reveal the solution to the first book, but it does reveals some developments that happen pretty late in the story, so I heartily recommend that you read this series in order.

As a fan of the first book, I was happy to meet the main characters of 密室の鍵貸します again in this second book. However, I found that the tone of the series had changed towards more humoristic scenes.

What bothered me is that some scenes are there in the unique purpose of being funny, but they don’t bring anything to the case. In the first novel, it was the way the investigation was conducted that was funny. It was the way it was told that brought humour to the detective story, not random scenes. In this novel however, we find ourselves with dialogues and situations that are introduced for humoristic purpose but slow down the pace of the novel.

I also found that the story takes forever to kick off. If you have read and enjoyed the first book of the series, you will still enjoy meeting the characters again and spend time with them, but still… I wish that we would get in the heart of the story quicker.

As for the investigation, it was good, but here again, I found that the importance given to comical effects hurt the “detective novel” part of the book. What I love the most in this series is how it breaks with codes of the genre: detective Ukai is not so much a 名探偵 as a 迷探偵, but I found that this concept was pushed to extremes here. As a result, I felt more frustrated than entertained, even though I had found this mechanic very exciting in the first novel.

Finally, there are a lot of repetitions in the story. I felt that the characters kept explaining the developments of the night of the murder over and over again.

To conclude, this novel is more on the humoristic side whereas the first one was more focused on the mystery side, which suited me better. The humour did not always work for me, and the tone was a little too light for my liking. This being said, it was overall an enjoyable read, and I will certainly continue the series.

Book review: 『密室の鍵貸します』by Tokuya Higashigawa


Title: 『密室の鍵貸します』 (みっしつのかぎかします)
Author Tokuya HIGASHIGAWA (東川篤哉)
Published by 光文社文庫
310 pages

This book is Tokuya Higashigawa’s debut novel and the first book in the series 烏賊川市 (Ikagawa), featuring detective Ukai.

Quick rating: 😄
I had a lot of fun reading this book. It manages to maintain a light and humorous tone throughout, while still delivering an engrossing case and a challenging locked room mystery.


『密室の鍵貸します』 is a great howdunnit. If you like locked room murder mysteries, I highly recommend it if you are a fan of the genre as Tokuya Higashigawa explores the locked room possibilities with humour and inventiveness.

And the mystery is a challenging one for the reader as well as for our protagonist Ryuhei and the detective of the series: Morio Ukai.

I was also satisfied with the solution, which is not always the case when authors build complicated murder scenarios. The novel was engrossing all along, with a good pace and enough room for the reader to make their own theories, even though I remained clueless throughout the novel.

The book also contains a lot of humour, and plays with the reader’s expectations. For example, the conventional role of the private detective vs police officer is not what you would expect here. I found it extremely refreshing and I am so thankful to the author for introducing novelty in the genre and break the stereotype of the genius detective.

I have read several light/humorous detective books in Japanese, and this one is by far the best. I will continue the series for sure!

Book review: 『探偵さえいなければ』 by Tokuya Higashigawa


Title: 『探偵さえいなければ』(たんていさえいなければ)
Author: Tokuya HIGASHIGAWA (東川篤哉)
Published by 光文社文庫
292 pages

『探偵さえいなければ』is the eighth and most recent book in the Ikagawa city series (烏賊川市シリーズ). This book is a collection of short stories.


I love humour in crime fiction, but it is always hard to find good humoristic books about murder that both make the reader smile or laugh and deliver a good crime story. 『探偵さえいなければ』 is just that. It is a delightful read that was very funny, plays with the codes of crime fiction but still offers suspenseful stories about solving a murder or get away with it.

The book is a collection of five short stories that take place in Ikagawa, a place where there always seems to be a murder on the making somewhere. Most stories feature detective Ukai who might well become one of my favourite fictional detectives. As an avid reader of murder stories, I have encountered a lot of different detectives, but the “bad” detective who somehow manages to solves cases in spite of his questionable deduction skills… that feels new and exciting!! 

There is a lot of humour in the stories, from Ukai’s harebrained deductions to perilous alibis settings, there are numerous comical scenes and effects. All short stories were equally good and I was completely engrossed in each of them.

Unfortunately, I haven’t read the other books of the series before reading this one. It is totally fine to read 『探偵さえいなければ』without having read the previous books, but I would still recommend to read the series in order as the author does hint at some previous cases and there are recurring characters.

This book belongs to my best reads this year, and I will definitely read the whole Ikagawa series!