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The Aosawa Murders

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  11 reviews
On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. 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 person spared injury. But ...more
Kindle Edition, 346 pages
Published January 16th 2020 by Bitter Lemon Press (first published February 2nd 2005)
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The Aosawa Murders, originally published in 2005 under the title Eugenia, is Riku Onda’s English-language debut and her first crime novel. She’s been writing since 1991, however, so this novel isn’t the product of a novice author.

Some time in the 1970s, in a city on the coast of the Sea of Japan, a respected physician hosts a birthday party on an unusually hot afternoon. Seventeen guests, including several children, are poisoned by cyanide-laced beverages. All but one guest who consume the
Jessica Woodbury
3.5 stars.
Part of the pleasure of a Japanese puzzle mystery is that it won't follow the same formula and beats as an American one. (Puzzle mysteries aren't all that common in American crime fiction.) It will feel unfamiliar in structure and tone, it will not hit the usual emotional beats. THE AOSAWA MURDERS certainly delivers in that respect. The crime is shocking and unusual (a family and their guests at a party all poisoned), and the book jumps all around, mostly coming to the reader in long
An exceptionally well-written, ultra-twisty murder mystery.

Onda uses a variety of styles and literary devices (letters, diaries, interviews in which we read only the responses, and more standard first and third person accounts) to build a very complex story about what appears to be a motiveless but hideously evil mass murder. She provides us with a great deal of data, many opinions, loads of atmosphere (the weather itself is nearly a character and almost certainly an accomplice), and a handful
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unconventional mystery novel for readers who have read it all. I liked the different points of view of the story although at times it seemed slightly confusing. I strongly recommend this novel to fans of Japanese culture, they will find it delightful in spite of the horrific crime committed at the beginning of the novel. Don't expect a crystal clear ending, though, it doesn't end abruptly but I wish the author had been more explicit.

There are several clues throughout the novel that make me
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn’t swept away by the wave. It simply lapped at my feet.

Have you ever read a story where you're so completely transfixed that the world around you just seems to slip away? You're not breathing or existing, you're just so in the moment in another galaxy that the only thing that matters are the words on the page.

This book was transfixing and written beautifully and that seems odd to say since it's centered around death, a lot of death. There has been a hideous perfect crime. In a castle
Regina Lemoine
3.5 stars. The narrative structure of this novel is unique and interesting but I’m not sure I liked being kept at such a distance from both plot and character. I’m also not completely sure about what actually happened. I’m okay with ambiguous endings in general, but I wanted a bit more in the way of closure here.
Carole Tyrrell
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
30 years ago. in 1973, three generations of the same family, the Aosawas, were murdered in their home. It was on a hot summer’s day and it was also an auspicious date. The father, grandmother and grandson were all celebrating their birthdays on the same date. In all the excitement, no one noticed the driver who delivered sake and soft drinks laced with cyanide. But soon 17 members of the family were dead with only one survivor; a daughter, Hidako who lost her sight as a young girl.
Kathryn Hemmann
In 1973, in a small seaside town on the west coast of Japan, the prominent Aosawa family and their guests were poisoned with cyanide during a birthday party, an incident resulting in the death of seventeen people. Makiko Saiga, who was a child at the time, later interviewed people connected to the family for her senior thesis, which ended up becoming a true-crime bestseller titled The Forgotten Festival. Makiko never published another book and refused to give interviews, and the sole survivor of ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Parties are great. Parties celebrating the auspicious birthdays of elders are also great. What's not great is when the party is spoiled by cyanide, resulting in the deaths of most peopleat the party, in vomit-tinged terror.

That's one way to break up a celebration.

But it's the primary focus of this novel – the crime, its aftereffects, and how such an event was received by a variety of community members.The Aosawa Murders might be rooted in an event in an unnamed seaside city in 1973, but it
Aimee Dars
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, translated, mystery
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In 1973, in a small Japanese seaside city, the prominent Aosawa family held party for the neighborhood to celebrate the joint birthdays of three generations. Joy turned to tragedy when seventeen party goers died from cyanide poisoning, including the entire Aosawa clan save for Hisako, Dr. Aosawa’s twelve-year-old blind, captivating daughter. The only clue was a strange poem left on the kitchen table.

Detectives spent months pursuing the investigation with no leads, but a troubled
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