Turning Japanese #5: The Inugami Curse (1951) by Seishi Yokomizo (translated by Yumiko Yamazaki)

Toyoichiro Wakabayashi writes to Kosuke Kindaichi sharing his concerns that a blood soaked catastrophe awaits the Inugami Clan. Kindaichi is not sure what to make of this letter but travels to Nasu anyway but before he can meet his informant the man is murdered.

Eight months earlier, Sahei Inugami, a man who had made a fortune from nothing, died at a ripe old age. It is only now that his oldest grandson, Kiyo, has returned from war that his will can be read.

He leaves everything to the orphaned granddaughter of his spiritual mentor, with the caveat that she must marry one of his three grandsons. There are other complications, and another potential beneficiary is an unknown man, Shizuma Aonama. There is a three month time limit on some of the conditions, which means that each member of the family  has a motive to bring a speedy death to multiple relations so that they can claim the inheritance.

There is an early incident in the book that brought a particular Christie title to mind but rather than just leaving this dangling, it is soon brought into the foreground and the suspicions arising from it are spread around equally.

Whilst the tontinesque will and two masked men come straight from the Golden Age, the motivations behind the characters actions seem, without having much knowledge, purely of this period of Japanese history and society.

We get teasing references to Kindaichi’s previous cases: a body hung upside down from an old plum tree and another stuffed into a large bell in “Gokumon Island”, decapitated corpses in “Nightwalker” and multiple murders in “Yatsuhaka Village”. All I can say is “Please Pushkin Vertigo, bring us more!”

Previous posts in this series:

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawa

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

What Else I’ve Been Reading Recently

The Sentence is Death (2018) by Anthony Horowitz

Book two in Horowitz’s metafictional series where in between working on fiction, such as scripts for the TV series “Foyle’s War”, he writes up the cases of Scotland Yard consultant Daniel Hawthorne. A lawyer has been killed with a very expensive bottle of wine and the number 182 has been painted on the wall in green paint.

I didn’t get the full picture but I did identify the murderer based on interpreting one clue correctly even though I didn’t really agree with it. The fictional Horowitz is unsure whether he will continue working with Hawthorne, but the real Horowitz has put in enough unexplained threads that it’s clear that volume three will be along at some point and I look forward to it.

Puzzle for Puppets (1944) by Patrick Quentin

There’s only one thing on Peter Duluth’s mind when he meets his wife Iris in San Francisco for thirty-six hours of leave from the US Navy. Unfortunately for him (but even more unfortunately for the victim) a number of strange incidents culminate in a murder and he is the one in the frame. A fun romp, although much more a thriller than a novel of detection.


10 thoughts on “Turning Japanese #5: The Inugami Curse (1951) by Seishi Yokomizo (translated by Yumiko Yamazaki)”

  1. You’ve no idea how much I hope Gokumon Island is the next in line to be translated. A novel Ho-Ling Wong described as the most respected Japanese detective novel ever written. I really want to read it!


    1. Given that someone has to go to the effort of translating Japanese into English, whatever comes out next should be good. I mean they’re not going to waste their time on whatever Yokomizo’s “Passenger to Frankfurt” is!


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