We are following the below schedule (page counts may vary based on your medium):
Week 1 - Jan 29
Read up until chapter 1, section 4
I will generally copy this information over thread to thread each week for ease of finding - you can always expect the schedule at the top of any weekly thread
Law and Order
Any reveals, for the current chapters must be behind spoilers or detail curtains. When we get further in you don’t need to hide details that were revealed in previous chapters.
Questions on vocab, grammar, nuance, and the like are both welcome and encouraged. If you’re not sure if it’s a spoiler, assume it is and use one of the above options to hide the text.
You are encouraged to speculate and guess wildly
Be kind about other peoples’ wild guesses
Even if you don’t read the chapter(s) in time, you are still encouraged to post in the thread for that reading once you have finished it. I advise not reading ahead in the threads as you may see spoilers.
To gauge participation - a poll!
Are you reading week 1 of 黒い森の記憶?
Yes, I’m planning to read along/am reading along this week
I’m currently about halfway through this first week and I have to say this is a totally different vibe than the last 赤川次郎 book I read (魔女たちの長い眠り | L28) and the other one I’m idly reading (変りものの季節 | L30??). It’s much heavier on descriptions and the vocab used is significantly wider as well.
The book says in the back it was originally published 昭和５８年, or 1983, and I remember the only other book of his I’ve read that came to this level was one of his first books published in the late 70s. I wonder if he simply started writing more pulpy, fast-reading books in his later career or if it’s a case-by-case basis The books I mentioned were 1987 and 1995, for reference.
Yes, I’ve only read the first subsection so far, but it definitely doesn’t feel like his normal style. I have actually read the author’s debut work (幽霊列車, 1978) and I don’t recall that being a noticeably more complex style, but it’s been a long time since I read it and I could just have forgotten.
Side note: at one point the publisher released this under their ホラー imprint…
Finished this week! So far it’s going slower than the average 赤川次郎, but I like it.
It’s hinted so heavy-handedly that the retired doctor is the serial killer that I wonder if it’s a red herring after all. The murders started just when he got there, he always locks very carefully, he meets no one and has his shopping delivered without even meeting the delivery person. He wants no visitors, not even his daughter, and doesn’t want his acquaintances knowing his address. And he gets delivered a doll filled with fake blood? What?
Well, maybe, but on the other hand perhaps he knows who the killer is and is trying to hide from them? A sudden decision to quit one’s job and move to a remote location driven by stumbling on some evidence that an old acquaintance is the killer seems perhaps more plausible than somebody taking up serial killing only as a retirement hobby.
It’s an interesting choice for the narration to keep calling him 老人 even now we have a name for him.
I don’t remember seeing a time written as 一時へ後五、六分 before.
My paper copy uses a smaller font than usual – pages are 18 x 42 characters rather than the more common 17 x 40.
But the killer operates where he moved to, not where he was before (unless he moved with him?). It’s very likely he’s hiding from someone specific though. On the other hand, he seems quite open in the interactions he does have, like with his daughter, the policeman or the shopkeeper. And he has medical journals delivered, so he must have reported his change of address, even though he doesn’t seem interested in them? In any case, the way it’s written, every time he looks under the bed or opens the fridge I expect a body part to pop out
Agreed, and there’s generally the feel that we’re standing somewhere and watching him. We even looked in through the window in the beginning. I wonder if “we” turn out to be someone in the story. Probably not.
This is the first time I am reading a proper mystery novel in Japanese.
The start with all the environment descriptions was pretty tough.
Usually when I read things like these in English/native lang my eyes just glaze over until people start doing things.
That’s not really possible when I only know like 4 out of 5 words
But after pushing through that bit it got way easier, though I still lack everyday vocab (I mostly immerse in fantasy).
I love speculating on mysteries and extrapolating way too far, so here it goes:
There is no way the doctor is the serial killer. That got to be the reddest of herrings.
Especially since the killer is also a rapist, really can’t picture the guy doing that.
So if he isn’t the killer, what is he doing there in total isolation?
We haven’t been told much, he just woke up, cleaned his house, ordered stuff, wrote a letter, took a walk, talked to the investigator and ate dinner.
What did he do the rest of the day?
My guess is he is searching for something specific which can only be found in the 黒の森.
Next thing on the list is the doll.
Somehow I doubt the fake blood is actually fake. Especially with the investigator coming later, this feels like someone planted evidence on him.
Not telling the investigator about this seems like a mistake.
Primary suspect out of all the people introduced so far is the delivery guy. I’ll be keeping my eyes on him.
Also there is something I don’t think I understood right.
Was the letter from the daughter in the same box as the doll?
At first I thought the doll was sent by the daughter, but that does not seem to be the case.
Also there was something about the sender being unreadable that I didn’t quite catch.
I understood that both the envelope and parcel were brought by the postman. The envelope was secured onto the parcel with string, but it was so that they could be delivered together, not because they were sent by the same person. The sender on the parcel was unreadable because the writing had gotten wet and blurred at some point.
My first thought as well, that someone was planting evidence. But surely, anyone could tell if a red liquid is blood or not? Even more so a doctor? I’ll be cross at the author if it turns out a doctor couldn’t tell blood from ink.
I do have questions about the doll, anyway. Is it all plastic, or just the eyes? If it is, and the torn and resewn part was on the clothing, how likely was it that he’d prick the belly by accident? And how could the sender even count on him trying to reopen the stiches? This part makes no sense to me. Unless I misunderstood something.
Right. But it stood out to me how everything else was described in unnecessary (ducks) detail, but the blood is totally ink, trust me bro. No mention of the smell, exact shade of color, viscosity, how blood would have clotted or whatever else could have made him notice.
Hmm. That is a good point. Maybe the guy is a known stickler for needlework?
Also his “friend” only recently learned where he lives. Could be the guy sent him a creepy doll as a present.
I belatedly realized that I won’t be around my computer to post week 2 - would someone mind opening the thread for me at that time? You shouldn’t need any special permissions or anything, just make sure to tag it with the book title so it’s searchable.
Also I’m a bit behind this week due to being sick (during which I did read a lot, but exclusively low effort trash) and will probably be late next week due to traveling, but I promise to catch up!
I had never read this author before.
Decided to join because I’ve seen (on Natively and elsewhere) several times 赤川次郎’s works being described as fast paced, but seems like no?
I really really enjoyed the writing style, choice of words and all the descriptions, (that creepy doll too) so I’ll stick with this anyway.
My biggest question right now. Like how on earth did he decide to reopen the stiches? This is not sth you usually do when you see a doll. Was he a surgeon before? Is age his only reason for retirement or did some kind of accident push him to retire early? (The accident which made him think he should open the stiches)
I kinda like this 老人 so I don’t want him to be the serial killer.
This book is definitely a bit more description heavy than his more usual (later?) style, which tends more to a lot of dialogue and a simple, easy to read style. I guess we’ll see how the pacing goes once the plot gets started. Though I wouldn’t call this book a difficult read – it’s just a notch harder compared to his other books which are often very easy reads.
If you want to try a more “typical” example of his output at some point, maybe あなたも殺人犯になれる! | L27 (there’s a WaniKani book club that’s just finished for that one) or セーラー服と機関銃 (series) | L30 (WK book club just about to start).
After sickness, traveling, and various social obligations eating into my free time I finally finished out this section tonight!
I updated the character wiki in the home post in case anyone forgets character name readings / relationships. Feel free to contribute, but do of course be mindful of putting spoiler tags on any reveals.
I’m also thinking the doctor is not the killer at this point, but that he has some connection to them. But his general lack of reaction to the doll, and referring to it as a prank (iirc) makes me think maybe he doesn’t know he’s connected to a killer? I have too little evidence to speculate overly much, but I’m looking forward to diving into week two
As an Amazon Associate, Natively earns from qualifying purchases through any Amazon links on the site.