The Aosawa Murders

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Bitter Lemon Press, 2020 - Blindness - 346 pages
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Selected by NYT as one of MOST NOTABLE BOOKS of 2020.


On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. The occasion turns into 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 person spared injury.


But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. The police are convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako' and witness to the discovery of the murders. The truth is revealed through a skilful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbours, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kewing - LibraryThing

The mystery (who committed the mass murder of family and neighbors at a group birthday celebration?) at the center of this novel is told obliquely through the testimony of witnesses, some immediately ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - smik - LibraryThing

This novel has the reader working hard to cope with both the structure of the novel and the author's intent. It appears to be first of all a series of interviews, three decades after the original ... Read full review

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About the author (2020)

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 Shūgorō 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.

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