Seishi Yokomizo (1902-1981) is one of Japan’s most famous mystery writers, best known for his 77 (!!) books of the Kosuke Kindaichi series. The Inugami Curse (also published as The Inugami Clan) is volume six in the original series in Japanese, and volume two in the English translation.
The idea of a clan implies a lot of people. Thankfully, the book opens with a list of the many characters.
Sahei Inugami was the founder of the silk industrial Inugami Group. He was orphaned at a young age and then generously helped in life by a priest and his family. Later on, he never married, but had three daughters. For various reasons, Sahei added to his household Tamayo, his benefactor’s grand-daughter.
At his death, his daughters and their own families met, but were astonished to learn that Sahei’s will would be read only on the first anniversary of his death, with the Inugami Foundation running the business in the meantime.
Eight months after Sahei’s death, Private Investigator Kosuke Kindaichi checked into a nearby inn.
I love how he is introduced to the reader. Imagine a Japanese Columbo, and I think you are pretty close to the idea, with his mannerisms as well as his sharpness of mind. He is informed that a series of bloody deaths is going to impact the Inugami family.
Kosuke Kindaichi is curious but is quickly challenged in his investigation.
Finally, the reading of the will reveals very complicated matters.
This is a difficult plot with lots of twists connected to family relationships and hidden identities. So who’s who? And what about those three curious family heirlooms? Who are the real killers, for what motives? Only the clever Kosuke Kindaichi could figure that one out!
Besides the complex plot and suspenseful scenes, the author uses some lyrical images, such as these:
He sat like a lifeless statue in his white, rubber mask, enveloped in otherworldly stillness–the stillness of a mysterious marsh deep in the mountains that had lain unknown to humans since ancient times.
Her sublime beauty was indeed as endless as an ever-flowing spring.
Due to its complexity, the book is not easy to read. I highly encourage you to take notes to better follow the family connections.
But its solution is very satisfying! Its cleverness made me think of more recent Japanese authors, for instance Keigo Higashino with his Detective Galileo or Detective Kyochiro Kaga.
With one of my French students, I’m currently reading the third volume of this series in its French translation. It will be published in English as The Village of Eight Graves on December 2, 2021 by Pushkin Vertigo.
After that, I’m definitely planning on reading volume 1, The Honjin Murders.
VERDICT: A satisfying but complicated plot. Perfect to highlight the detective’s cleverness in this typical Japanese classic mystery.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
Or any great Japanese classic mystery?
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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines, I received this ebook free of charge through Edelweiss Plus, for review. I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.