🕵️‍♀️ 推理小説読書会 📚 Mystery Novel Book Club 👮‍♂️ Now reading 体育館の殺人!

Hi! I thought it might be fun to try to start a book club. I’m taking inspiration from the book clubs on WaniKani’s forums but tweaking the format just it a bit. We can always iterate and improve :slight_smile:

I personally am a big fan of mystery and crime novels and would like to read some with you all. I know the forums here are still small, but even one or two people to read along with would be fun :hugs:

Proposal for first iteration of this book club:

  • People nominate books using the template below
  • At a set time (say 2 weeks from now? July 22nd) we hold a vote on the nominated books. There will be a week to vote.
  • Upon that poll closing (July 29th), a new poll (and thread for the specific book) will open to vote upon cadence for reading the book (ex: 30 pages a week, 1 chapter a week, etc.)
  • Aiming for the first book club to start August 8th
  • A new thread for each week of the book club will be made to separate out spoilers and discussion into manageable chunks
  • Books of all levels welcome for nomination
  • Novels, light novels and short story collections welcome to be nominated

Discussion ground rule suggestions

  • Spoilers behind spoiler tags
  • Always mention where you are in the book when discussing, ideally by chapter so people reading different versions have a clear point of reference.
  • Feel free to read ahead if it’s exciting! But please refrain from spoiling ahead of the appropriate week :slight_smile:
  • If you have a question about grammar, vocab, cultural things, etc - ask! That can be part of the discussion too and I’m sure some folks would be happy to help.

Template for nominations


**Book**: Put a Natively link here!
**Is there an ebook available?**: yes or no (buying options are visible on the Natively book page)
[details="Summary - Japanese"]
you can copy/paste this from wherever you'd like. Please have it in a drop down like shown.
[/details]
[details="Summary - English"]
Optional! Chuck the above summary into DeepL, Google Translate, or the like. Or remove this section. 
[/details]
[details="Content warnings if known"]
You can't be expected to know all the content of a book you haven't read yet, but if you know it deals with specific heavy topics, or the author is known for doing so, please include it here.
[/details]
**Why are you nominating this book:** This section is also optional, but it's nice to know why someone else is interested in reading a book, and might sway others to vote for it!

Simply copy and paste the above text (not quote) into a reply to nominate!

:books: Nomination List - Click here! :bookmark:

:male_detective: Link to voting results for 1st book club! :male_detective:

Removed Nominations

Books with no votes get the :hocho: ! They can be renominated, but please allow at least 2 voting cycles before doing so.

15 Likes

Book: 黒い森の記憶 | L30??
Is there an ebook available?: Yes

Summary - Japanese

深く黒い森の果て、かつて名医と呼ばれた老人が1人で暮らす山小屋へ、足を撃たれた男が転がり込んでくる。男は、世間を騒がせている連続少女暴行殺人事件の容疑者として追われていた。配達員にすら会わないほど人嫌いのはずの老人は、なぜか男を匿うことにする。同じ頃、老人のもとには差出人不明の不気味な小包が次々と届いていた……。

Summary - English

At the end of a deep black forest, a man who has been shot in the leg rolls into a cabin where an old man, once called a great doctor, lives alone. The man is wanted as a suspect in a series of assaults and murders of young girls that have caused a sensation in the world. The old man, who is supposed to be so misanthropic that he doesn’t even meet his deliveryman, for some reason decides to hide the man. At the same time, the old man receives a series of eerie packages from an unknown sender. …

Content warnings if known

Presumably there is reference to sexual assault of young girls in this book due to 少女暴行 being mentioned, but this author typically isn’t very graphic.

Why are you nominating this book: I really like this author and find his writing style easy to read. Most of his books are fast paced and exiting.

7 Likes

Ooh our first natively book club! A mystery novel might be a bit too far above my level atm, but depending on what we read I’d still like to give it a try!

6 Likes

This sounds great :mag_right:

I just need to finish off some LN, but happy to try any recommendations next month.

I recently added 殺人のライセンス to my wish list. It’s only level 25 (estimate) so that might be a good “easy” mystery/thriller.

Oh lol, you already started reading that!

5 Likes

Ha, yes, I am reading 殺人ライセンス, and I submitted it at 25 because when I started I evaluated it as being easier than スマホを落としただけなのに | L28 although now that I’m halfway done I’d say they’re about the same level, maybe with 殺人ライセンス still being a shade easier.

I’m tempted to try nominating just another book by the same author, but the only other book of theirs on the platform, マル暴総監 | L34 , is graded much higher so they probably are pretty variable.

The second book in the スマホ series, スマホを落としただけなのに 囚われの殺人鬼 | L28 , is an entirely unrelated story with the same premise of ‘bad things happen because you dropped your phone’, so I suppose if people don’t mind things slightly out of order I could nominate that one :thinking:

Doing some googling for mysteries more likely to fall in the 20s, I see はやみねかおる is typically graded that way, the 科学探偵 series, which you’ve read the first volume of is also a contender as I don’t think it needs to be read in order. Actually a giant list of elementary/middle school age mystery books here. 今夜は眠れない by 宮部みゆき looks appealing as I like that author, but no digital edition which is a bummer.

6 Likes

This looks interesting :eyes: If this starts next month I will probably participate.

Do you know カラスの親指 by rule of CROW’s thumb | L38?? ? It says level 38 but from what I read from the first few pages I don’t think it’s that high. I’m interested since it ranked pretty high in Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Mystery, Thriller & Suspense” and few booktubers recommend this book as a mystery novel.

I also don’t mind if we end up with 黒い森の記憶, as long as the writing is straightforward and not too flowery I will read it.

5 Likes

Yay!

I’m not familiar with it at all, but another book by the same author is on my wishlist. I skimmed a few pages of the preview and agree it’s not a level 38 unless the writing style changes midway through or start tossing in tons of obscure vocab.
Would you like to formally nominate it or shall I? :smiley:

I definitely want to have a vote once we have a couple nominations - I’ll read pretty much whatever (so long as no animal cruelty). I will say 赤川次郎 is not a flowery writer. If I had to describe him writing style as anything it’d be ‘pulpy’ :sweat_smile:

3 Likes

Awesome! Never really tried the concept of reading with a book club before. Definitely joining you guys once this starts!

5 Likes

I’m not sure I want to nominate that after knowing it’s 520 pages, probably too long for a book club :sweat_smile: I will propose グラスホッパー instead since it’s also on my wishlist and it’s only ~300 pages.

3 Likes

Book: グラスホッパー | L35
Is there an ebook available?: Yes

Summary - Japanese

「復讐を横取りされた。嘘?」元教師の鈴木は、妻を殺した男が車に轢かれる瞬間を目撃する。
どうやら「押し屋」と呼ばれる殺し屋の仕業らしい。
鈴木は正体を探るため、彼の後を追う。
一方、自殺専門の殺し屋「鯨」、ナイフ使いの天才「蝉」も「押し屋」を追い始める。
それぞれの思惑のもとに──。
「鈴木」「鯨」「蝉」、三人の思いが交錯するとき、物語は唸りをあげて動き出す。

Summary - English

“Revenge has been stolen. Is this a lie?” Suzuki, a former teacher, witnesses the moment a man who killed his wife is hit by a car. It seems to be the work of an assassin called “Oshiya”. Suzuki follows him to find out who he really is.

Meanwhile, “Whale”, an assassin who specializes in suicide, and “Cicada”, a genius with a knife, also begin to pursue “Oshiya”. Each of them has its own agenda.

When the thoughts of Suzuki, Whale, and Cicada intersect, the story begins to roar.

Content warnings if known

Nothing

Why are you nominating this book: It’s the first book of the 殺し屋 series and seems to be quite popular in the mystery genre. Only ~300 pages and based on what I read from the first few pages, the writing is quite straightforward so hopefully even a “beginner” can follow along just fine.

7 Likes

Ooh! Natively’s first bookclub! I’m definitely interested in participating as well! Gotta look through my own wishlist and see what would fit here.

How should manga be handled? Wanikani typically only does one volume, but if the reading level of those here skews higher, we could get away with reading more.

3 Likes

I actually have no idea how to handle manga in a book club because it tends to be several volumes and more expensive so I left it off :sweat_smile: I can read a single manga volume in an afternoon but they’re pricey! :scream:

3 Likes

I’m very interested in this book club! Thanks for organizing, @cat!

I went through my list to see which books I might nominate, but it’s so easy to get lost in this sea of options… I might selfishly nominate 木洩れ日に泳ぐ魚 by Riku Onda (not on Natively yet), which was recently translated as “Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight”, just because I was going to read it anyway, but book clubs are all about discovering new things, right?

I remember two books I had read in translation many years ago and loved them at the time. One was Out by Natsuo Kirino (OUT 上 | L35), the other was In the Miso Soup (イン ザ・ミソスープ) by Ryu Murakami. Sadly, none of these seem to be out in ebook form, or I’d very gladly reread them in Japanese.

I found two other Natsuo Kirino books that might be worth checking out. 柔らかな頬 上 | L30??, which was awarded the Naoki Prize, and 顔に降りかかる雨, which was awarded the Edogawa Rampo prize. Not sure about her writing style in Japanese, I’ll have to check a sample first. But 柔らかな頬 consists of two volumes, the first of which is 359 pages, and 顔に降りかかる雨, is 496 long, so both probably a little too long for a book club?

Anyway, I’ll keep looking, and I’m looking forward to more of everyone’s nominations. I hope we get a lot until the voting date!

9 Likes

Ahhh yes! You have such good taste in mystery novels! I’m excited! :smiley:
I submitted a handful yesterday to be added to the site so I could nominate them, and need to check my paperback 積読 pile to see if any have ebook versions as well.

I’ve been wanting to read Natuso Kirino for awhile now too.

I’m not sure about page limit, but perhaps 400 for now? Once things inch past that I do worry it would intimidate people, but I’m happy to hear opinions!

2 Likes

Book: 聖母|L31
Is there an ebook available?: yes

Summary - Japanese

東京都藍出市で、幼稚園児の遺体が発見された。被害者は死後に性的暴行を加えられていた。事件のニュースを見た主婦・保奈美は、大切なひとり娘も狙われるのでは、と恐怖を覚える。警察は懸命に捜査を続けるが、犯人は一向に捕まらない。娘を守るため、母がとった行動とは。結末を知った時、世界は一変する。驚愕の長編サスペンス・ミステリー!

Summary - English

The body of a kindergartener was found in Aide, Tokyo. The victim had been sexually assaulted after her death. When housewife Honami sees the news of the incident, she fears that her precious only daughter may also be targeted. The police continue their investigation, but the perpetrator is never caught. What action does the mother take to protect her daughter? An astonishing full-length suspense mystery.
Translated with DeepL Translate: The world's most accurate translator (free version)

Content warnings if known

Judging from the summary, sexual assault and murder of young children.

I didn’t know anything about this book until a few hours ago, and normally the religious title and cover would put me off, but I read various reviews that all talked about such a mindblowing twist that they had to question their understanding of what they had read till then, so that sounded intriguing. And I’m always up for discovering new authors.

4 Likes

Book: 柔らかな頬 上 | L30??
Is there an ebook available?: yes

Summary - Japanese

カスミは、故郷・北海道を捨てた。が、皮肉にも、その北海道で娘が謎の失踪を遂げる。
友人家族の北海道の別荘に招かれ、夫、子供と共に出かけたカスミ。5歳の娘・有香が忽然と姿を消す。実は、 石山とカスミと不倫の関係であり。カスミと石山は家族の目を盗み、逢引きを重ねていたのだ。夫と子供を捨てても構わないと決心したその朝、娘は消えた。有香が消えた原因はもしや自分にあるのか? 罪悪感に苦しむカスミは一人、娘を探し続けるが、何の手がかりも無いまま月日が過ぎ、事件は風化してゆく。しかし4年後、元刑事の内海が再捜査を申し出る。カスミは一人娘の行方を追い求め事件現場の北海道へと飛ぶ。
この一作がミステリーの概念を変えた、話題の直木賞受賞作。

Summary - English

Constituting the north of the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido is an inhospitable region of harsh mountains and gray sea. At eighteen, Kasumi got on a bus and fled the family home to try her luck in Tokyo, never to see her parents again. After fifteen years of absence, she returns for a few days to her native region, at the invitation of a couple of friends, the Ishiyamas, accompanied by her husband and her two daughters. But one fine morning, five-year-old Yuka disappears without a trace. All searches will be in vain. Did the little girl run away, like her mother years earlier? Was she the victim of an accident or a heinous crime? But which of the relatives or neighbors could have committed such an act? Kasumi is racked with guilt because this stay was actually just a pretext to see Yohei Ishiyama, the couple’s friend, who is also her lover. Then begins for Kasumi a slow drift, a desperate investigation in search of her missing daughter, during which she will receive the unexpected help of Utsumi, a former police inspector suffering from stomach cancer. These two characters, as if torn from life by their respective tragedy, will sink like ghosts into the foggy mornings of Hokkaido…
from Amazon.fr

Content warnings if known

Not known, but Kirino does tend to get dark and doesn’t shy away from gore or violence.

I was blown away when I read Out in translation, many years ago. I’ve read other books by Kirino since, always in translation, and they were good, but Out continued to stand out. This book has won the prestigious Naoki prize, and some reviewers group it with Out among her best books. I’m very interested to finally read this author in her native language. However, note that the book comes in two volumes. Volume 1 is a manageable 358 pages, but then there’s a whole other volume after it…

3 Likes

Just a note, the title didn’t seem to be displaying correctly here.

What a thing to be convicted of.

7 Likes

Thanks for the heads-up. It showed up fine on the preview. And I can’t for the life of me make it display correctly. What am I doing wrong?

Huh. The joys of automatic translation… :joy:

4 Likes

Book: 十角館の殺人 | L30
Is there an ebook available?: yes

Summary - Japanese

十角形の奇妙な館が建つ孤島・角島を大学ミステリ研の7人が訪れた。館を建てた建築家・中村青司は、半年前に炎上した青屋敷で焼死したという。やがて学生たちを襲う連続殺人。ミステリ史上最大級の、驚愕の結末が読者を待ち受ける!
1987年の刊行以来、多くの読者に衝撃を与え続けた名作が新装改訂版で登場。

Summary - English

Ayatsuji reinvigorates the classical English mysteries of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ellery Queen, and John Dickson Carr by stripping them down to their essentials and examining their moving parts. In this novel, six members of the Kyoto University Mystery Club—each taking the alias of a famous mystery writer—assemble on an abandoned island and take up residence in a decagonally shaped house. Naturally, soon enough the students begin to be killed off, and the race is on to discover the murderer’s identity. Meanwhile, back on the mainland, two members of the club who chose not to go receive mysterious letters that lead them to believe that something is afoot on the island. Along with an enthusiastic partner, they set about trying to solve another mystery from years past, which has connections to the island. Ayatsuji leaves no doubts about his intentions, making copious references to Christie’s And Then There Were None, and even the characters are well aware that they have stumbled into a work of their favorite type of fiction. The metafictional trappings are good fun, but they wouldn’t mean much if the mystery itself wasn’t equally fun and tricky. And it is.

Content warnings if known

None that I know of.

This book keeps coming up whenever I search for Japanese mystery recommendations. It’s very much an Agatha Christie-style mystery. Not my style generally, but it might be fun to read something less gritty for a change.

7 Likes

Sorry if this was too many nominations from the same person :sweat_smile:. If so, feel free to ignore. It’s just that I got too excited about the club and starting looking for possible books to nominate, which led to an endless rabbit hole that I’m still not out of… I’m stopping with the nominations now though! (At least until the Riku Onda book gets added to Natively…maybe).

3 Likes