Blog tour: The Aosawa Murders

By Riku Onda
Translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts

Synopsis: On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. 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 family member spared death. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. Inspector Teru is convinced that 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. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbours, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

How did this book end up in my hands? An email about the blog tour for this book appeared in my inbox one day and I knew I wanted to participate as soon as I laid eyes on the cover and the author’s name. I love books in translation and I am forever fascinated by Japanese culture: this book is a perfect combination of both!

Was it a page-turner? No, but that is not to say that I wasn’t interested in finding out what came next. What it means is that – as I find with most Japanese literature – this is a novel that needs to be savoured. No detail is accidental and every word is carefully chosen to create a beautiful prose. I don’t speak Japanese so I can’t check for myself but I have a feeling that the translator has done a brilliant job.

Did the book meet my expectations? Met and exceeded. I loved the format of the novel and the way in which the pieces of this complicated puzzle came together. I was excited to read it particularly because I wasn’t anticipating a straightforward narrative and I was rewarded with exactly that!

Three words to describe it. Complex. Ambiguous. Clever.

Do I like the cover? I adore the cover. Hands down the most beautiful book cover I’ve held in my hands this year!

Have I read any other books by the same author? This is the author’s first novel to appear in English and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hope it won’t be the last.

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