The 8 Mansion Murders by Takemaru Abiko (1989)

Witty and clever

Why I picked up the book:

This is another shin honkaku mystery – Japanese mysteries that aby by the golden age mystery rules. So I already go into it knowing I will love it and the solution will be fair! These are fantastic brain puzzles. Inspector Kyozo, his accident-prone assistant Kinoshita and amateur detective Shinji investigate two crossbow murders in the “8 mansion,” a large estate named after its shape. First, the owner’s son is killed. Shortly after that, another resident who witnessed that murder dies under impossible circumstances. This is giving me major Dr. Fell vibes; I can’t wait to read it!

The book through my criteria lens:

BRAVOOOOOO!!! This book was fantastic! It was fast-paced, hilarious, cleverly plotted, and the twist was terrific! It really kept me guessing until the end, and when the solution was presented, I was mad for not having guessed everything! Most characters were well-drawn, but I would have preferred the book to be more character-driven; it felt like the puzzle was the author’s focus. I am, however, not mad at it because at least Abiko delivered. The plot was flawlessly clever, and I enjoyed the bending of the fourth wall (using the term loosely here) with many references to real-life works of fiction.

My personal feelings:

I loved how this book was tongue in cheek, witty, and delivered a solid whodunnit with the best hallmarks of a comedy that wasn’t lost in translation.

Our amateur detective was a perfect blend of Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale – a cheeky young man who is utterly brilliant and endearingly arrogant!

Ho Ling Wong is one of my favourite translators. I love how much care he puts into his translations, so we understand the context of the book. In this book, he added some notes that helped with the background of some references – chef’s kiss!!

Lastly, I love when novels have a list of characters and maps/illustrations, and The 8 Mansion Murders has both! I loved picturing the house in my head, and I was low-key jealous because I have always dreamed of building a house built around an inner courtyard!

The only thing I am mad about is that it seems that this is the only Inspector Kyozo book. I wish it had been a series!
I highly recommend this book to any mystery lover.

Enjoyability     10

Characters       8

Ambience        10

Fairness          10

Plot                  10

Execution        10

My total rating: 4.83

Review for this book is mentioned in this video: TBP


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Until next book, be the hummingbird!

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