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The Aosawa Murders

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,336 ratings  ·  378 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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Average rating 3.65  · 
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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 beve
The Aosawa Murders by by Riku Onda, Alison Watts (Translator) is a 2020 Bitter Lemon Press publication.

This Japanese mystery is certainly perplexing, with an interesting and unique presentation of the facts. Unfortunately, I had a very hard time with this novel. We've all struggled with the ability to focus lately, which made this a bad time to tackle this book, perhaps.

So, I put the novel down for a while, then picked it back up only to feel more lost than ever. I started over from the beginn
Nancy Oakes
seriously, somewhere between a 4.5 and a 5. I loved this book. Absolutely loved it.

full post here:

Generally I don't reread crime/mystery novels because I can only be surprised once, but this is no ordinary crime/mystery novel, and it affected me much more the second time through. After the original read I knew I had something great in my hands but things were still a bit murky; rereading brought clarity and I was flat out chilled.

The Aosawa Murders is no
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 m
Richard Derus
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can't believe we've been denied the voice of Author Onda for lo! these many years. She's been creating a giant ouevre since 1991. It's wonderful that we have so much good stuff to come; it's a howling shame that English-language crime-fiction readers haven't had Author Onda's words until now.

But let me tell you why that's a crime. Mystery novels, ones with a sleuth you follow around as she pokes her nose into many places that people with secrets would strongly prefer she didn't or cops whose s
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 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having a wee bit of a sojourn into Japanese crime fiction so couldn’t resist the premise of this one- a mass poisoning at a family gathering and a degree of doubt of the guilt of the man accused of the crime. What transpires is a clever, compelling and perfectly plotted tale that at times throws up many more questions than it answers…

Composed of a series of vignettes in an almost testimonial form, the book circles around a collection of people that had either had a direct connection to the crime
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 th
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.
"I can only ever be myself for the rest of my life - I can't be you, or Mother. I'll never know what other people are thinking, only what I think - don't you think that's boring?"

Best to go into this one blind.
But I will tell you this:

It was an absolutely unnerving read. Told from the views of several individuals, The Aosawa Murders will creep you the hell out (hopefully).

It took me a few pages to acclimate to the writing (it was translated from Japanese and felt a little wordy) but once
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is just my opinion, of course, but the concept of singular is a subtle but important factor in much of Japanese culture. It implies taking a step back to admire something that might be slightly deviant, or unsettling in some way. To coolly observe something repellent and unpleasant and appreciate it as a form of beauty for entertainment. I find that psychology fascinating. Take the ideogram for “singular” for instance, which also contains the meaning of “suspect and unusual”. I see in that ...more
I love Japanese crime thrillers .The premises were good. I thought I will like this one too.. but this was a muddling read towards the end .

I have so many questions and many things remain unclear and hazy

I still don't know what happened.

End has left me more confused than the beginning.
Isaac R. Fellman
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinarily weird, eighteen-layered pseudo-anthology mystery that takes the form of an oral history of...a different oral history. I’m delighted by the strangeness of this.
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
Jun 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
so thought provoking - on the same lines as the truants and if we were villains
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A most unusual murder mystery, both set up and way it was written. Haunting and enjoyable. It kept me reading eagerly until the end. 17 people at an Aosawa family gathering in the 1960s are poisoned and most of the people there die. The novel consists of interviews with an unnamed interviewer and of chapters of background. Suspicion falls upon the man who makes the fatal delivery but he commits suicide. An enigmatic poem?/letter? addressed to "Eugenia" is found. What is the role of the family's ...more
Never Without a Book
The Aosawa Murders was originally published in 2005 under the title Eugenia, is the first by Onda to be translated into English. Told in a series of monologues by a variety of characters, this book was hard to put down. ⁣
Set in the 70’s in a city on the coast of the Sea of Japan, seventeen guests at the Aosawa’s home were poisoned by cyanide-laced beverages. We learn that all those who drank from these bottles instantly became ill, all but one dying, and we learn that the Aosawas’ daughter, Hi
Melanie’s reads
Every now and then a book becomes more than the story it is telling. This is such a book, it is a challenge to the reader. A puzzle for you to solve. You will be given a series of clues in many forms. You have to work out not just who but why and are you being told the truth?

The book begins with the only survivor Hisako and her testimony. Is she a victim or a murderer? Never knowing who is asking the questions throughout the book and being told thirty years later from multiple perspectives. How
Paul Ataua
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never really known what to make of Japanese puzzle mysteries, but this one turned out to be a real doozy. The unresolved case is the horrific cyanide poisoning of 17 people, including three generations of one family. It is a murder in which the only survivor is the blind daughter, Hisako. The mystery is taken up by a present day unnamed interviewer who revisits the unsolved crime, but who also returns to the original investigation by the origami practicing detective thirty years earlier, ...more
Ana Menendez-tuckman
I persevered through the first few pages because it was so elusive and unclear plus there is significant going back and forth in time. Once I got myself centered I enjoyed most of the middle portion and was going to give it a four. The last part was so enigmatic and symbolic that left me disappointed so I lowered the rating to 3. Not sure it’s worth the read.
Mrs. Danvers
I really enjoyed the structure of this and the way that the story unfolds slowly, in its own time.
Barb (Boxermommyreads)
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I don't read a lot of novels with a Japanese setting so I think that is what originally spoke to me regarding this tale. I am glad I took a chance on The Aosawa Murders because it really paid off.

This novel is set around a historical incident in the 1960s where a large group of people died at a party. Although a young man soon after kills himeslf and in the eyes of many, admitting his guilt. However, many, including the local police, aren't sure that the family's daughter also didn't have a role
Bogi Takács
A fascinating multi-POV mystery novel that's also structurally interesting, and wonderful on the sentence level as well... but it's let down by the fact that the author chose to have disability as one of the main themes without knowing much about disability topics beyond the stereotypes. Sigh. (These themes intensify as the book goes on, but by the point where I was wondering if I should stop reading, I was thoroughly involved in the mystery and wanted to see how it ended.)
Source of the boo
Gerry O'Malley
Tough book to get through. Put it down more than once and picked it back up out of a stubborn refusal to quit. It starts out promising but pretty quickly it gets ridiculously impossible to keep track of who is being interviewed, who is doing the interviewing and at what point in the story we are. The ending is hopelessly convoluted and undecipherable. I've still no clue who the murderer was. I have half a mind to change my rating to one star. ...more
While I did enjoy the creative structure of this book, at the end it's a mystery and as a reader I expect the end of my mystery novel to have a satisfactory resolution. This one doesn't. Real life is vague enough, I don't need that vagueness in this genre.

The more I read Japanese mysteries, the more fascinated I am at the difference between America and Japan. The modern veneer is the same, but the societal and culture forces are so different. Women have such a difficult life there. The fetishism
Sansriti Tripathi
Jan 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
slow burn spooky, best read at like 2 am while huddled under your covers
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
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 people at 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 s
Eustacia Tan
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has been on my TBR list for a while (I think because of Bookstagram? Or maybe I saw it in one of the blogs I follow? Maybe both?) so when I finally managed to go to the library earlier this month when they re-opened, I hunted (and found!) a copy to read! I was intrigued by this book because the premise of a mass-poisoning at a party really reminded me of Aibou: The Movie, which I would also recommend.

The Aosawa Murders is an unconventional mystery that looks at a never-solved fictional mass
Putting this out there straight away. Hisako did it! Of course she did.

I love the way this is written, all those tiny clues scattered through the book and things that don't necessarily seem important that are. Some of these people were insane though, they are fascinated by her but don't really have a close friendship with her. The author who seemed obsessed and wrote the festival book, she was like an empty shell. Is the person they are all talking to the friend (2nd last chapter (view spoiler)
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tbr
Five stars for the addictive readability and because Japanese puzzle mysteries are my fave genre :)
Loved the first person testimonies format.

But 4 stars for the ending, which was predictably elusive.

So are we saying Blind Hisako was abused by her mistress mother in the Blue Room ..?! And so she manipulated mentally ill monk wannabe with the third eye to deliver poisoned goods ..?! And the Forgotten Festival book was a message to Hisako from her adoring friend suggesting ‘I know what you did t
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TW Book Club: Was betrayed, in a good way 2 49 Dec 02, 2020 04:26PM  
what was your interpretation of events? 2 75 Jul 06, 2020 04:16AM  

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