Cover image for The Aosawa murders
Title:
The Aosawa murders
Uniform Title:
Eugenia. English
ISBN:
9781912242245
Physical Description:
315 pages ; 20 cm.
General Note:
First published in Japanese in 2005 as Eugenia by Kadokawa Corporation, Tokyo.
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
Summary:
In the 1960s 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a large party at the Aosawas, owners of a prominent clinic in an ancient castle city on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only survivor is their teenage daughter Hisako, blind, beautiful, admired by all, but soon suspected of masterminding the crime. --
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Summary

Summary

On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the wealthy Aosawas host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan, which turns to tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer's, and the physician's bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death. Inspector Teru is convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices, including that of the mesmerising Hisako herself.


Author Notes

Riku Onda, born in 1964, is the professional name of Nanae Kumagai. She has been writing fiction since 1991 and has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers' Award, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel, the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television. Alison Watts is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has published a translation of Aya Goda's TAO: On the Road and On the Run In Outlaw China and of Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa, released in October 2017.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Japanese author Onda makes her English-language debut with an enigmatic and haunting crime novel. In 1973, 17 people die at the Aosawa villa on the Sea of Japan in the city of K--, including members of three generations of the Aosawa family, after drinking spirits and soft drinks that were delivered to the house as a gift. The massive police inquiry settles on the delivery man as the culprit. He later hangs himself and leaves behind a note confessing to the mass poisoning, which he carried out after he got a "notice that he had to kill the Aosawa family." In 2003, Makiko Saiga, who was a neighbor of the Aosawas and the author of a book about the murders, talks to an unidentified interviewer. That's followed by testimony from other people with a link to the case, including the police detective obsessed with it. Onda's unusual narrative technique, which presents differing perspectives by giving only the responses to the interviewer's questions, enhances the nesting-doll plot. American readers will appreciate why this puzzle mystery won the annual Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Fiction. (Feb.)


Kirkus Review

A bizarre murder in 1970s Japan continues to reverberate through the decades. This book, originally published in 2005 under the title Eugenia, is the first by Onda to be translated into English.After opening with a short, unusually lyrical excerpt from the transcript of a police interview, the book unfolds through chapters told from strikingly different perspectives. The first narrator is Makiko Saiga, who wrote a book about the crime in question, the poisoning of 17 people at a birthday party at the Aosawa family estate. Looking back on the murders 30 years later, Saiga, who was a child at the time, remembers it was a humid summer in a beautiful setting by the sea. Then, several months after the crime, a man who didn't seem to have any connection to the Aosawas wrote up a confession and then hanged himself. Though skeptical, the police took the opportunity to close the case. Saiga went on to research and publish The Forgotten Festival, her only book, about the crime. As she winds up her story, she implies that Hisako, the blind young Aosawa heiress and the only survivor of the massacre, might have been the killer. "You see, it's a very simple story. If there are ten people in a house and nine die, who is the culprit?" The next narrator is Saiga's assistant, who's highly suspicious of her boss's motives. An excerpt from The Forgotten Festival follows, a thinly veiled dramatization in which Saiga places her younger self at the scene of the crime and implicates a man she sees as the messenger of death. Subsequent sections focus on the housekeeper's daughter, the detective, Saiga's older brother, and others on the way to the surprising conclusion. The domino effect of the murder on the community and the nation, as well as the swirl of uncertainty concerning the way its narratives are shaped, gives the book a striking resonance.This dark and dazzling novel defies easy categorization but consistently tantalizes and surprises. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.