J.'s Reviews > The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo

The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi by Kidō Okamoto
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's review
Jul 03, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: asia, japan, mystery
Recommended for: day trippers
Read from July 08 to September 21, 2011

What we have here is a group of stories written between the teens and thirties of the 20th century, about Edo Japan of the 19th century-- wrapped up in 'detective' clothing. Mr Kido was something of a literary entrepreneur, and like Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins, was a serials writer in the then-newly-popular vein of detective fiction.

The actual crime and detection aspects are pretty much secondary, though, in a compilation easily enough seen as nostalgia for a bygone era. It's a difficult compromise to hit on, since the nostalgia thing immediately nullifies any suspense generated in a 'crime' genre, and anything that promotes chaos & jeopardy too much ... well, fairly abolishes the cherry-blossom & tea ceremony setting. So what is left is a gentle, "Cautionary Tales" sort of thing, as told by a kindly uncle.

A bit like when Kurosawa allows his plots to go a little goofy (samurai getting drunk on saké, say)... in order to balance out his otherwise earth-shattering crisis points. It doesn't always work.

Nothing really un-likeable here, though, and if you'd like to take a breezy, carefree holiday in Meiji era Japan, this has it's moments.
If you're looking for something a little suspenseful or haunting ... no.
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