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: 『ベスト8ミステリーズ2017』edited by the Mystery Writers of Japan


Title: 『ベスト8ミステリーズ2017』
Edited by the Mystery Writers of Japan (日本推理作家協会)
Published by 講談社文庫
439 pages

The Mystery Writers of Japan is an association founded by Edogawa Rampo in 1947. It presents two annual awards: the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for long and short fiction and the Edogawa Rampo Award for unpublished fiction.

The association also compiles a collection of the best short stories published each year. The book I am reviewing here is for the year 2017.

The short stories compiled in this edition are:

偽りの春 by Ten Furuta (降田天) (Ten Furuta is the pen name of Ei Hagino 萩野瑛 and So Ayukawa 鮎川颯.
階段室の女王 by Tadanori Masuda (増田忠紀)
火事と標本 by Tomoya Sakurada (櫻田智也)
ただ、運が悪かっただけ by Yo Ashizawa (芦沢央)
理由 by Yoshiki Shibata (柴田よしき)
プロジェクト:シャーロック by Takemaru Abiko (我孫子武丸)
葬儀の裏で by Nanami Wakatake (若竹七海)
虹 by Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき)

Illustration from 火事と標本


Unsurprisingly, all the short stories in this book are excellent, and reading it was a pure delight. Not only this format gives you the assurance that each short story will be very good, but it also allows you to discover new authors and read different styles.

The first short story is the winner of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, and it was so good! It is the kind of story that makes you want to stop everything you are doing and read the entire bibliography of the author (or in this case, the authors). It is impressive to see how a 50 pages long story can manage to be so suspenseful and to trick the reader as well. The end really surprised me, because I was sure that I was right in my interpretation, but I was wrong.

My favourite story is another one though: 火事と標本. This story had the more interesting characters and it had a very strong impact on me. It is the kind of story that keeps you thinking about the characters and what happened. Again, this is only a 50 pages long story, but it affected me more than many novels have, and the characters are extremely well portrayed and feel very true. The end was also very good, just as I though that this story was not really a mystery, it turned out that it was.

From ただ、運が悪かっただけ

Speaking of impactful characters, the story by Miyuki Miyabe was to me the second best when it comes to characters depiction. The protagonist is a mother who fled her abusive husband and his family and found refuge in a shelter for women. Miyuki Miyabe makes you feel immediately close to the characters, and the story was really good. I just think that it is not really a mystery.

階段室の女王 was very entertaining and very well done I found. It felt very immersive and what started like an unlucky encounter turns into a real nightmare. The way someone who is perfectly innocent starts thinking and acting like a culprit when put in a certain situation was very well described. Overall, this was a fun and entertaining read.

プロジェクト:シャーロットis a SF detective fiction and was also a fun read. Though I prefer more realistic stories, I really liked this one and found the end very good.

理由 is a more classic story, and I found that some points were not convincing enough, but still a very enjoyable story if you like the genre.

ただ、運が悪かっただけ was unfortunately coming just after 火事と標本, and it shares a similar structure where a character shares an episode of his past with someone, which leads to a long flashback. Compared to 火事と標本, which shows us a really gripping tragedy, I fond that ただ、運が悪かっただけ looked pale, and I could not feel involved in the story of what the characters felt.

Finally, I must say that the story I liked the least is 葬儀の裏で by Nanami Wakatake. After reading a whole novel by this author (プレゼント), I came to the conclusion that her writing style was not really for me. I had exactly the same feeling when reading this short story. I still found it good and I enjoyed reading it, but not as much as the other stories. I also have a hard time connecting with the characters.

I will try to get my hands on the other collections of this series. Even though I prefer novels over short stories, this book is one of my favourite reads of the year.

Book review: 『大金塊|怪人二十面相』by Edogawa Rampo


Title: 『大金塊|怪人二十面相』(だいきんかい|かいじんにじゅうめんそう)
Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
431 pages

This book is the ninth title in the Kogoro Akechi collection published by Shueisha. The book contains two short novels that both belong to the Boy Detectives Club, a sub-series targeting young readers. It features Kogoro Akechi, but the main protagonist is Yoshio Kobayashi, Akechi’s young assistant.

怪人二十面相 is the first book of the Boy Detective Club series if we look at publishing date. The club itself is created at the end of this story. However, the Shueisha collection has classified the stories in order of occurrence in the fictional world, rather than publication date, and even though it was published later, there is no doubt that 大金塊 occurs before 怪人二十面相 (for example, there is no mention of the Club in 大金塊.)



Given that these two novels are books for children, I cannot really say that I enjoyed them as much as the ones from the regular Kogoro Akechi series. The tricks, the outcome and the plot are all very predictable, and Kogoro Akechi is not very present. As for Fumiyo, who used to be described as a female detective, she is now pushed into a mere Mrs Hudson role.

Nevertheless, I found these stories very pleasant to read, and Yoshio Kobayashi is an exciting hero to follow. He is resourceful, courageous and clever, and entirely devoted to Akechi. Kobayashi was first introduced in 『吸血鬼』and appears again in 『人間豹』. In these two novels, Kobayashi is entrusted with important missions, but he remained a secondary character, and we didn’t even get to learn is first name.

In 大金塊 and 怪人二十面相, Yoshio Kobayashi becomes the main character, he is often praised for his ingenuity and his courage, and his complete devotion to Akechi is made clear several times. He deeply desires to impress Akechi and does not hesitate to jump to the heart of danger.


怪人二十面相 seems to be the most famous of the two novels, but I liked 大金塊 more. It is a truly exciting adventure book for children with a treasure hunt and a deserted island. The part where Kobayashi finds himself locked in the villain’s hideout was very immersive and engrossing, even though some devices feel sometimes too good to be true (like the secret key that can open all doors).

怪人二十面相 introduces a recurring villain in the series, and it also sees the creation of the Boy Detectives Club with Kobayashi at his head. The Club is created at the end of the book, and the organisation does not do much in the story, but it is nice to see how it came to life. We see more of Akechi in this novel, but he appears like an all-mighty detective, who has already seen through all the criminal’s plans and found a way to outmanoeuvre him. I guess that if you are the targeted readership, you identify with Kobayashi, so Akechi naturally becomes the master and the mentor, the ideal to look up to. It is then normal that his skills should appear out of reach.

怪人二十面相 introduces the 探偵七つ道具 as well as the pigeon ピッポちゃん who plays a decisive role in the story.

The narrator, who always adresses the readers a lot in all the novels of the Akechi series, is more present than ever in these two novels, telling the young readers when to worry ああ、読者諸君、まだ安心はできません or not to worry いやいや、読者諸君、ご心配にはおよびません. We are even told at strategic moments to put down the book for a second and try to figure out the solution by ourselves.

Overall, these two books share a lot of similarities with the other books, but while certain scenes and tricks started to feel very repetitive in the regular series, the change of protagonist and Kobayashi’s resourceful personality give them a fresh feel, and I am happy to read them.

If you are interested in reading the Kogoro Akechi series, the books belonging to the Boy Detectives Club are easier to read than the regular ones. 大金塊 in particular felt really easy compared to the other ones. There are both available on Aozora if you want to give them a try.

『人間豹』by Edogawa Rampo


Title: 『人間豹』(にんげんひょう)
Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
Published by 集英社文庫
339 pages

『人間豹』is the 8th book in the Kogoro Akechi collection published by Shueisha.


I enjoyed this novel very much, but it is not as good as 『吸血鬼』or 『魔術師』in my opinion. Most novels of the series have very similar structures and differ mainly by their bad guy, who becomes the main attraction of the story. To make the criminals more and more appealing, Edogawa Rampo often uses features that are close to being supernatural, and the physical appearance of the characters also gives their dimension of horror to the novels.

We find all of these here with the “human-leopard”:


There is an emphasis on the physical appearance and physical features of this character, and this novel is mainly the confrontation 殺人鬼 vs 名探偵. The novel is a succession of duels between Akechi and the 人間豹 with each character trying to trap the other. The winner is the one who uses the more tricks and is able to see through the other’s plan. We even see them congratulating each other on the phone for their good tricks.


It was nice to read, but I personally prefer reading a story with a linear plot rather than a succession of tricks, traps and escapes. Furthermore, there was no motive of any sort in this novel (contrary to the previous one), and we are back to a story where the criminal kills people because he is a bad guy.

Furthermore, the mystery behind the existence of the man-leopard is not explained in the novel. I think that even a pseudo scientific explanation could have been nice, but the novel does not provide any.

This being said, it is still enjoyable to follow the adventures of Kogoro Akechi, even more so as we meet the characters of Fumiyo and Kobayashi again, who brings a lot to the series.

Sherlock is the dog of chief inspector Tsunekawa. Like his English counterpart Toby, he helps the detectives with their investigation.

Book review: 『黄金仮面』 by Edogawa Rampo


Title: 『黄金仮面』 (おうごんかめん)
Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
Published by 集英社文庫
329 pages

This is the sixth book in the Kogoro Akechi collection published by Shueisha.

Illustration: 飛行機は旋回を終って、徐々に高度を高めながら、北方をさして速力を加えていた。p.300


I did not like this novel at first, and it is one of my least favourites of the series so far. I was tempted to DNF it, but the end turned out to be very good, so I am glad that I did not give up.

This is the 6th title from the Kogoro Akechi collection, and the books get more and more repetitive. Most of the novels share similar scenes, actions and plot twists, so what makes a book stands out is not as much the structure and plot of the novel than the overall atmosphere, and how scary or striking the individual scenes can be. I found that this novel did not bring much in terms of creativity and I had a feeling of déjà-vu all along.

First, the novel starts by telling you that our villain is the worst criminal of all time, which, after 6 books making a similar statement, starts feeling less credible and impressive. Then I felt that the first half of the novel was a collection of scenes I had already read in the previous books. The action scenes where the culprit is chased by several policemen but always manages to escape are interesting to read if you like the genre, but the outcome is so obvious that they always fail to raise my interest.

『黄金仮面』 is heavily based on action, and there is little to no deduction in it. Even though Kogoro Akechi is quicker to see the truth than other characters, he does not apply a particular method to reach his conclusions and I found that the book did not feel like a detective story.

The novel also has a repetitive pattern in its construction with similar events happening several times: the criminal commits his crime, the police tries to arrest him, he escapes, some time later he commits another crime, and so on. We have several cases in one novel, and I found that this structure made the book less engrossing than if it were one big case we were working on.


Another point that made me feel disappointed is the role of women in this novel. Women only play the role of the victims in the series, they are kidnapped and murdered, they are afraid and defenseless. However, a new strong and interesting character had appeared in the previous novel, 『魔術師』. Fumiyo was a clever and courageous character, she was resourceful and played a major role in the plot. In 『黄金画面』however, the female character is treated purely as an object, a thing that can be owned and stolen, and whose voice and choices are never taken into account. I found the end very unsatisfying from this point of view.

Finally, the book did not manage to trigger any sense of fear or danger in me, contrary to the previous one which I found very exciting. The problem is that Edogawa Rampo kept saying how frightening and terrifying everything was, and the more things were “terrifying” the less I felt terrified. Instead of showing appealing things, the book only tells me that I should feel scared. Everything is 恐ろしい in this novel (恐ろしい事件、恐ろしいこと、恐ろしい犯罪、えたいのしれぬ恐ろしもの), but as a result, nothing really is…

This being said, I found the last third to be much better. Once the identity of the culprit is revealed, things get more interesting and the book really triggered my interest. I should have guessed the truth sooner, because there were enough hints for that, but I was really not expecting such an outcome. The case that occupies the last third of the book was really good and I loved reading it, even though I am not happy with how a certain character is portrayed by Edogawa Rampo. Some passages really made me mad, I wanted to shout that, “No! this character would never act like that!”, and the end of the book turned out to be an exciting read thanks to that. For once, I deeply wished that Akechi would fail and the villain win!

Book review: 『プレゼント』by Nanami Wakatake


Title: 『プレゼント』
Author: Nanami Wakatake 若竹七海
Published by 中公文庫
314 pages

This book is a collection of 8 short stories featuring Akira Hamura and detective Shuntaro Kobayashi. Each short story features alternatively one of the two characters except for the last one when they meet.

Nanami Wakatake has written several series of mystery novels, including the Akira Hamura (葉村晶シリーズ) series and the Mikoshiba series (御子柴くんシリーズ).

『プレゼント』 is classified as the first book of the Akira Hamura series, but in reality, it is also the first book of the Mikoshiba series given that Mikoshiba makes his first appearance in this book, as the assistant of detective Shuntaro Kobayashi.


I really wanted to love this book, but I only started to appreciate it towards the end, and never felt really interested in the characters or the cases presented.

I chose to read this book because I plan on reading the whole Akira Hamura series. As a result, I was particularly interested in the short stories featuring Akira Hamura, but in the end, I ended up liking the Shuntaro Kobayashi ones most.

The stories with Akira are told from Akira’s perspective using the first-person pronoun, whereas the Shuntaro ones use the third person pronoun and are told from the perspective of someone related to the case. Shuntaro usually only makes a brief appearance towards the end.

Despite following Akira directly, I never felt close to her nor could I really understand her personality or feel any sympathy for her. I just cannot understand why she acts like she does, this character completely puzzles me. For now, she is not the kind of character I would happily spend 7 books with… this is just the first book though, so things might change.

I also did not particularly like the author’s style. For example, I found that it takes a while at the beginning of each story before the reader can understand what is going on. It is hard to describe what exactly bothered me, but I had the feeling that the narration would always describe first and explain after. For example, you will first go through an entire dialogue without really knowing what is going on or who the persons talking are. Only after the dialogue would and explanation be given. I found it very strenuous to read, especially because these were short stories. I found that I always struggled a bit to get a good vision of the setting at the beginning of each story, and it took me a while to start feeling involved in the case and the characters involved in it. When i finally did, the 30 pages long story was generally over 😅

Overall, I wanted to read this book first because it is the first of the Akira Hamura series, but now I think that I would have enjoyed it more if I had already read books of the series and were familiar with Akira. The problem is that this book introduces two different detectives who only have 4 short stories each, and I feel that it was not enough to really get to know them. My favourite story is the last one where they are both featured. It’s only at the end of the book that I started to get used to the author’s style and to appreciate the characters.

I have the next book of the series because I bought it together with プレゼント, so I am not giving up yet!

『吸血鬼』by Edogawa Rampo


Title: 『吸血鬼』
Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
Published by 集英社文庫
437 pages

This is the seventh book in the Kogoro Akechi collection published by Shueisha. Kogoro Akechi is a fictional detective created by Edogawa Rampo. My reading challenge for 2021 is to finish the whole collection of 12 books by reading one book per month.


This is my favourite book of the series! First of all, we meet Fumiyo again, the only interesting female character of the whole series. She appeared first in 『魔術師』where she played a major role in the plot. Now, she works with Kogoro Akechi as his assistant and is described as a female detective. We also meet the young Kobayashi who helps Akechi and works in his office (and who will become the main protagonist in the 少年探偵団 series).

Contrary to the previous stories where Akechi worked alone, we now see a team building itself. In previous novels, Akechi’s life and whereabouts were kept mysterious, we knew for example that he just came back from abroad, but we didn’t know what he was doing there. There were no mention of where he lived, he just appeared out of nowhere to solve the crime. With 『吸血鬼』, Kogoro Akechi feels more tangible and human.

The plot is also excellent, one of the most complex of the series with several good twists. Generally, the mystery in the novels of the series is easy to crack, and I think that most readers know what will happen next, or have a good idea about who is who or what tricks the author is using. This novel, however, managed to surprise me several times and reading it was really exciting.

Similarly to 『魔術師』, there were a good amount of memorable scenes in this book. To cite only one, I really loved the scene of the coffin. It is quite long, but very well described and extremely immersive. Overall, this novel is just a succession of great moments, there is both deduction, action and horror in a perfect mix.

I also liked how everything is explained in this novel. Most of the time, in the other novels, the story lacks realism, with criminals who make impossible escapes and other tricks like disguise or the use of mannequins that are not credible. I felt that at the end of the novels, a lot of mysteries were left untouched, but in this one, everything is explained in a long but exciting passage where Akechi reveals the truth and how he found it.

However, what I loved the most in this novel lies elsewhere: for the first time since the first short stories of the series, the criminal has a motive. In all the other novels, the criminal kills people because he is “the worst and most dangerous criminal of all times”, and that’s it. There is no explanation, no reason for their actions. In 『吸血鬼』, people have their reasons for acting like they do, and instead of having just a big villain, we have secret motives and a somber past.

Finally, the end of the novel was excellent with a fun hint to one of Edogawa Rampo’s most famous work.

With 『魔術師』and the short stories of the first book, this is my favourite novel of the series. Hopefully, the next one will be as good!

Book review: 『魔術師』 by Edogawa Rampo


Title: 『魔術師』 (まじゅつし)
Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
Publisher: 集英社文庫
315 pages

This is the 5th book in the Kogoro Akechi (明智小五郎) collection, and my reading challenge for 2021 is to read one book per month.


「今度の賊は犯罪史上に前例もないほど恐ろしいやつだ。」 (At this point, I feel like there is a similar statement in each and every Akechi novel… 😅)

Great story

I absolutely loved this novel. The story is really great, it feels like reading Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Alan Poe and Gaston Leroux at the same time. Mysterious threatening letters and a locked room mystery… I am here for that!

I also found that the novel remains suspenseful and engaging until the end. Even though there are some predictable events, the story always find a way to trigger the reader’s curiosity. This is the fifth book of the series that I read, and I find that the story tends to become repetitive after a while in longer novels. 『魔術師』 keeps surprising the reader with unexpected scenes and twists, and it is my favourite novel so far.

Closer to the first Akechi

In the last two novels, Akechi only appeared briefly and very late, but in 『魔術師』 he is here right from the beginning. The reader is also able to feel closer to him than in the previous novels: we follow him in his investigation, and he feels like a concrete character who actually has a place to live and is animated by feelings. As a result, I found that this novel felt like reading the first short stories, where Akechi was actually our protagonist and not just some kind of deus ex machina intervention to solve the mystery at the end of the novel.

Memorable scenes

What really surprised me in this novel is how spooky some scenes are. There were dismembered bodies and things like that in the previous books, but this one brings things to the next level with very memorable scenes. The scene of the clock was very striking and not one I am likely to forget. The magic show was also quite disturbing. Overall, I found every single scene of this novel much better than any of the previous ones. Characters are not just simply locked in dark rooms, there are chilling details and sinister background stories that make this novel stand out compared to the others.


I did not really like the previous novel 『猟奇の果』, and overall, I found that I was liking the Kogoro Akechi books less and less, so this one came as a pleasant surprise. I also found that the narrator often hinted at previous stories, creating a complicity with the reader who has been reading the whole series… it feels good to be a part of it 🙂

Illustration: 実は福田氏は飼っている純白の牡猫なのだが… (if you read the story, you’ll know that my drawing is not accurate, but it was easier to leave it like that.)

Book review: 『名もなき毒』 by Miyuki Miyabe


Title: 『名もなき毒』 (なもなきどく) (Nameless Poison)
Author: Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき)
Publisher: 文春文庫
607 pages

This is the second book in the Saburo Sugimura series 杉村三郎シリーズ. There are 5 main titles in the series so far.

The series should be read in order as the second book reveals facts from the first book 『誰か』, and overall, seeing how the main protagonist Saburo Sugimura evolves is what makes this series the most interesting in my opinion.

This story takes place one year after the events of 『誰か』.


Saburo Sugimura works for his step-father’s company, Imada group, and he and his colleagues are having trouble with a former employee. Sugimura will also find himself tackling a serial murder case and do what his wife calls 探偵みたいなこと.

Underwhelming for a detective story

This is classified as a 推理小説, but I personally would not say that this book really falls in this category. It does have a murder case, but the book is more focused on the main character and his daily life than on the investigation. Overall, I would not recommend this book to someone looking for an exciting detective novel.

First of all, the pace of this novel is incredibly slow. The book is 600 pages long, but it is not because there are a lot of things happening… the same story could be told with 300 pages only.

Similarly to the first novel of the series, 『誰か』, Saburo Sugimura is not a private detective (yet), so the investigative parts are not the most exciting. A credible explanation as to why a normal salary man would start investigating a murder case is also needed. This makes for a very slow set-up which was quite similar to the first book.

As for the event that make this story a “detective story”, namely a serial poisoning which sounded very promising at first, it ends up being more and more underwhelming as we get closer to the truth.

There is another side story that involves one of Saburo Sugimura’s former assistants, and I found this part of the story to be much more interesting and engaging than the main investigation on the poisoning.

Second half feeling quite long and slow

I loved the first half of the novel and read it quickly, but it took me forever to go through the second half. I found that the pace of the novel became irritably slow, and even though I liked this book overall, I slowly lost interest in the story. It was easy to foresee what would happen and yet, we had to go through all the lengthily steps that led to it.

Great main character: Saburo Sugimura

With only the first two books of the series read so far, I have already spent more than 1000 pages with Saburo Sugimura. I find that the main interest of this series is to follow Sugimura and share his daily life at work and with his family. His relationship with his father-in-law and how this affects his life at work and his private life is particularly interesting.

Good series overall but not for fans of detective fiction

I would not recommend this book or the series to someone who wants a good detective/crime novel with suspense and an exciting investigation. However, if you want to read an entertaining novel with a solid main character, this series is very good. Again, to me the main interest of the book was to follow Saburo Sugimura, so I would definitely recommend to read the series in order, rather than just picking this one book.

I will continue the series for sure, as I want to know what life has in store for Saburo Sugimura. (The next novel is even longer than this one with 800+ pages…)

Illustration: 紙パックのウーロン茶に混入されていたのは、今度もまた青酸性の毒物だった。p.13

Book review: 『猟奇の果』 by Edogawa Rampo


Title: 『猟奇の果』 (りょうきのはて)
Author: Edogawa Rampo (江戸川乱歩)
Published by 集英社文庫
293 pages

This is the fourth book of the collection 明智小五郎件簿 by publisher 集英社文庫.

My reading challenge for 2021 is to read one book of the collection per month (there are 12 books in total).


Repetitive patterns

I start wondering if reading one Kogoro Akechi every month was a good idea, because it feels like I am always reading the same book. The plot is different in every novel obviously, but there are patterns and situations that Edogawa Rampo uses in every book, and it start feeling very repetitive to me: the protagonist obsessed with crime and detective novels, the mysterious house with mysterious rooms, parts of dismembered bodies scattered in the city…

Detective novel?

To be honest, I did not really like this book because it feels so far away from the first short stories that I greatly loved. In the first Akechi stories, there was a lot of psychology involved and also a lot of deduction. Why would people commit murder? how would they react afterwards? These questions were inherent to the stories. Here, I found that the characters’ motivations were not always clear, the focus being more to describe the deeds themselves than to reflect on what led to them.

In the first stories, there were also theories of crime and investigation: is the perfect crime possible? are witnesses reliable? and so on. In 『猟奇の果』 , there is no detective deductions. Every lead is found by chance (if you wander in a park at night, you are sure to find a lead), and there is more tailing than deduction going on.

This made me feel like I was reading a thriller rather than a detective novel. Similarly to the precedent novel, Kogoro Akechi also appears quite late in the book. We also don’t really see him investigating, he just appears with the solution at some point.


I was not fan of the mechanism employed in this novel, it felt like reading SF. I love realistic novels, and so I had a hard time feeling interested in this one.

Strange pace

The novel is divided into two parts and they are very different. I loved the atmosphere of the first part, it has this mystery going on and some good spine-chilling moments. However, there is also a lot of shadowing and not much deductions, so I soon started to feel a little bored.

Akechi appears in the second part, so I was expecting more detective work. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of Akechi, and we mostly see how the villains fulfil their scheme. Compared to the first part, the second one is much larger in scale and the pace is much faster.

This feels a little off balance because the book spends a lot of time (the whole part 1) describing events that are not that important to the story, leaving the same amount of space (part 2) for the core of the plot, which is a large-scaled machination with political implications and a criminal organisation. I think that it would have been better if each part was a novel in itself.

The end also felt a little quick, but this was already the case in previous novels so I was expecting it.

Still addictive

So far, this is the novel I liked the less. The series is still addictive though, and I can’t wait to start the next one. Maybe those repetitive patterns are what makes this series so addictive, I can’t wait to see more dismembered bodies I guess… (edit: I started the fifth book after writing this review and we do start things off with a severed head floating on the Sumida river.)

Illustration: 「前の車だ、あれを見失わぬように、どこまでも尾行してくれたまえ」「大丈夫ですよ。この夜ふけに、まぎれる車がないから、めったに見失うことはありやしませんや」 p.65