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Tasha Young

5 Japanese Crime & Mystery Novels That’ll Make Time Fly

Now that you are done with finals, done with tricky problem sets, and done with tedious readings, congratulations! Now is your time to start reading something for fun and leisure. As a crime, mystery, and thriller lover, these are some quality pieces of Japanese literature that I just can’t put down.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Before you crack open this book, ask yourself a question: What would you do for love? Someone in this book fell crazily in love that he conducted a “perfect” crime for his “one and only.” Immature as his mentality was, he was able to fabricate superb lies and manipulate people’s thoughts so that he couldn’t be associated with the murderer until the very end. The book is kinda long for a detective story, yet it is not slow-moving at all. It’s more like a psychological thriller in which there are many sick twists and turns. Hold your breath and be ready for an absolutely unexpected climax!

Holy Mother by Akiyoshi Rikako

Honami is a responsible mother who worries about her own daughter a little bit too much. As I read further, I realized that I was fooled by her “maternal love.” The true side of Honami is far more sophisticated than she appears to be. Being seized with remorse, she even sets others up to “protect” her own child at all costs. It’s quite thought-provoking – the author tries to bring the mother-daughter relationship and humanity all together.

Confessions by Minato Kanae

The story alludes to the increasing trend in juvenile delinquency in contemporary society. Has the law’s protection of minors harbored more crimes? Growing up, the murderer was neglected by his mother. The lack of proper education and emptiness of his own spirit leads him to conduct crimes just in order to win his mother’s attention. The female teacher, on the other hand, chooses to retaliate against the murderer in a cruel manner instead of taking legal actions. The whole story is so depressing and breath-taking that it will haunt you for awhile.

Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

The author adds a touch of astrology to the story to accentuate the intense atmosphere of the murders. The plot is very intense, but it’s fast-paced and intertwined, so it keeps you intrigued. You will probably find some minor clues as you approach the latter part of the novel and want to guess the culprit.

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

This book focuses more on the sordid underbelly of modern human nature. A combination of a passion for crime, locked room mystery, homicide, suicide, and imitation murder makes readers really think.

If you haven’t been exposed much to the Japanese literature in terms of the crime, thriller, or mystery genre, I hope this can be a good list for you to start with. Sit back and enjoy a cozy afternoon full of suspense and excitement!


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Zhilan is a current sophomore at Boston University. Being an extroverted introvert, she loves to cook healthy food, explore aesthetic coffee shops, and read mysteries.
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