A classic inheritance mystery – set in Japan…
Before I read Seishi Yokomizo’s The Inugami Curse, I had previously read one of the few other books of his that have been translated into English, The Honjin Murders. That was a very recognizable classic locked room mystery. (See my review here.) And The Inugami Curse is a recognizable classic too, but of a different type: it’s a competitors-for-the-inheritance tale. But although The Inugami Curse is a “type”, Yokomizo added enough twists and turns of his own to keep me guessing until the end.
After reading two such different but equally classic mysteries however, I got curious, and took the time to read about Yokomizo on Wikipedia (see here). And from that I learned that after World War II, he focused only on writing popular mystery novels, and that he deliberately adapted orthodox western detective story themes to his own culture. Based on the two I’ve read so far, he did that really well!
The Inugami Curse drew me in, and I ended up reading it pretty much overnight, luckily on a weekend! It was a little depressing at times, given that many of the characters were kind of unlikeable. But likeable characters wouldn’t have really fit the plot. Nasty suspects aside, though, I really did enjoy Yokomizo’s understated amateur detective, Kosuke Kindaichi, and the way he patiently followed up on clues and puzzled out what was going on. (I found the head/hair scratching thing a little annoying, though, so I just skipped over that when I could…) And in the end, Yokomizo pulls it all together with some flair.
As with The Honjin Murders, I very much enjoyed The Inugami Curse, and I hope that the publisher will translate more of this series into English. Please note that for me, 4 stars out of 5 is a really good ranking, since I try not to give too many 5-star reviews. So 4 stars is a solid “read this book” review. And once again, my thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher, Pushkin Vertigo, for the review copy.