Review: The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

Something new and different on the blog this week! 

The Honjin Murders is a classic Japanese murder mystery, first published in 1946 as a serialized publication.  The author, Seishi Yokomizo, created the iconic detective character Kosuke Kindaichi.  This book is a classic locked door murder case and one of the most famous Japanese murder mysteries ever written!

The narrative takes us through the wedding of Kenzou Ichiyanagi and Katsuko Kubo while surrounded by select members of their families.  It is winter, with a thick layer of snow on the ground, far removed from the city in the remote estate of the Ichiyanagi family.  After the wedding, everyone goes to bed.  In the middle of the night, a terrible noise wakes the family up and it is discovered that the bride and groom have been brutally murdered, setting up a locked door mystery.

The first-person narrator style and often fourth-wall breaking situations only lend to the driving force of the genre.  I really enjoy the “just the facts ma’am” style of the writing.  This book is full of interesting pieces of Japanese culture from the 1930s/1940s, which is a fascinating look at traditional Japanese literature.  

The Honjin Murders has been translated into English for the first time and is available August 4th!  This is the perfect book for fans of Agatha Christie, the Poiroit novels, Steig Larssen, and other detective novel writers and books!  

Watch Knives Out! and curl up with this great detective novel for a fantastic read!

I received a galley copy of this book from Edelweiss and Pushkin for an honest review!


Review: The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi

Teymour Shahabi’s The Secret Billionaire delivers the perfect amount of suspense and excitement from the first page.  The novel’s elusive and ever-present business tycoon Lyndon Surway looms over the narrative, giving the reader the feeling that they are missing something throughout the pages.  This feeling of suspense drives the plot forward through the story of Andrew Day.  Andrew has no parents and has been passed around the system to one day wake up to find that he has been chosen for an illustrious and competitive scholarship to a school only accessible by elite, rich families. 

Shahabi explores Andrew’s relationship with his host family and the friends he makes at Saint Clement Academy.  Andrew’s interactions and his thoughts regarding his host family delves into the complicated host of feelings that children in a foster system can experience.  Andrew talks about having no family, no heritage, he comes from nothing.  Shahabi deftly maneuvers Andrew’s thoughts on the matter to something more akin to what he can become, what legacy can he leave from his time at the academy. 

“There’s no such thing as an old family or a new family. People are all people; all of humanity’s the same age on this planet. But ye get to start a heritage, and someday some lucky kid named Day will get to parade in here with a limousine and be greeted all over campus like royalty, and all over the world like a celebrity, because of something you did. Ye see, you’re the first Day!”

This quotation captures the essence of the novel and the essence of the struggle that people face in their everyday lives.  What legacy will I leave behind?  Not everyone has an elite school or academy that they attend, but many people want to leave their mark on the world as Andrew longs to do.  Andrew Day is insightful, clever, and a fantastic point of view character. 

My only complaint is that the pacing can get a little bogged down with information when Andrew is considering and synthesizing information. 

Overall, this is a solid novel with an interesting premise that left me wanting more at the end of each page.  I found that I couldn’t put the book down once I’d begun reading it.  Readers will find that this novel has everything – hints of Harry Potter, a bit of Batman Returns, and the emotional complexity and depth associated with a coming of age tale in a world that is completely new. 

Follow Andrew Day through his journey at Saint Clemens Academy.  Do you know who Lucien Baker is?

 I received an advanced copy of this book for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Cover photo by PageWing, Inc and Teymour Shahabi