Angela's Reviews > The Togakushi Legend Murders

The Togakushi Legend Murders by Yasuo Uchida
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's review
Dec 22, 08

bookshelves: mystery
Read in September, 2007

One of the biggest things I wanted to do during our Japan trip was get hold of some works by Japanese authors, translated into English. I really wanted to find something by Sakyo Komatsu, since he was after all the author GoH at Worldcon, but unfortunately it seems not many of his books have been translated. Instead, I wound up picking up several mystery/suspense type novels, and the first of these was The Togakushi Legend Murders.

The back cover of this thing says that "This novel will mesmerize mystery buffs as well as those interested in the culture and folklore of Japan." This was in fact the selling point of the book for me, since I wanted to get a feel for what Japanese authors do with supernatural things in their work. Turns out that this particular novel utilizes the legend of the Demoness Maple quite well for its plot, and while there isn't anything actually supernatural going on, the old legends of Maple are fascinating in their own right. So are the backstories Uchida sets up for all his characters, all centered upon a specific tragic event during World War II, and all the glimpses of daily Japanese life that took on added weight after two weeks' stay in the country.

There is a certain formal stiltedness to the language, but I don't know if that's due to the flavor of the original writing or to the influence of the translator. Either way, it oddly worked to set the flavor of the story, especially when dealing with the older events that form the core of the entire plot. And while the ending wasn't exactly surprising, watching everything fall into place was nevertheless quite satisfying. Three and a half stars.

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