Hey everyone! Today is my day on the blog tour for The Aosawa Murders, published by Bitter Lemon Press! If you’re a fan of Japanese fiction, you’ll want to check this one out…
The novel starts in the 1960s when 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a party given by the owners of a prominent clinic in a town on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.
The police are convinced Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the killings. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.
This is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read! The structure of this one absolutely fascinated me; I found it so clever. The book is written as a series of monologues from various characters connected with the mass murder case, and this vast range of perspectives makes it so intriguing to read. As a reader, you are being given clues and snippets of information from different sources and trying to reach a conclusion as to what happened. And let me tell you, Riku Onda had me doubting myself a lot!
You would worry that in a book with so many perspectives, it would be difficult to distinguish between characters. However, I found that each one had a distinctive voice and I never once felt confused. There were some perspectives that I enjoyed more than others but I think that’s only natural when there are so many characters to contend with.
There is admittedly a certain level of detachment that comes from Onda’s unique monologue style. I did feel that I was being held at a distance for the duration of the book, but I feel it worked for this particular story and added to the intrigue of it all!
I will say that if you like clear answers at the end of a book, this one may not be the right choice for you. I was left a little confused at the end as things didn’t really resolve. Though I can see and appreciate that tying things up neatly was not the author’s intention. I’m still not sure I’ve reached a definite conclusion as to ‘whodunnit’ – and it might be that I never do. The constant switches in perspective made me feel so uncertain and like I was missing crucial details – but maybe that was the point? Can we ever truly understand the motives behind a crime like the one presented here?
Overall, this was an intriguing read that I would recommend to fans of Japanese fiction or those who like their murder mysteries a little bit different!
If you’re interested in this one, check out the other stops on the blog tour for more information and reviews!