Crime spree

I went on a crime

spree lately … that is to say

a crime fiction spree!!



Belated Happy New Year.  Well, I’ve more than satisfied my Keigo Higashino curiosity for now, through this crime fiction spree of mine, having got no less than five of his books out of the library at some point over the last month or so.  Yeah five. Once I am interested in something, I just dive in.  I started with A Midsummer’s Equation and have just finished the quintet with Newcomer.  Two of the books belong to his Detective Galileo series (said detective is not a detective in fact but a scientist nicknamed Galileo who helps his detective friend(s) solve crimes) and two belong to the Detective Kaga (friend of said Galileo) series.  I just flew through them and not because I wanted to spend time away from the madness of the holiday season, and get through a dull January.   Now, while they’re good I wondered at times if there were inconsistencies in one or two of them.  In small details I mean.  Is this an oversight in the plot or in the translation?  Over all they were pretty good reads despite any ‘huh?’ moments I had.   I thought it was strange how the detectives in this book – Kaga et al – spoke so much with the main suspects in a case (one or two characters in fact ask the detective(s) this very question in one of the novels) and were so casual with them.   Isn’t that strange?  These novels have some strange and disturbed characters but also very decent ones.

I haven’t really read a crime novel in a while, years actually, but I have watched a good many crime dramas – of varying quality – from different countries so I had something to compare the novels to – sort of.    By the way, speaking of other countries, I wonder how Higashino feels about being called the Japanese Stieg Larsson, who died in 2004 but was most famous for his posthumously published Millenium Trilogy.

I note the translators of these particular books were all men.  There are plenty of female translators of Japanese fiction out there but most of the books I have on my shelf were translated by men, with the exception of three or four of them and one of those is co-translated with a male translator.   As long as the translation itself is good, that’s great but I’d be interested to know if there are more women out there translating Japanese crime fiction or actually writing it.  I hope there is no sexism involved on the part of the writers but I suspect that certain authors, male or female, just have their favourite translators who just happen to be men and don’t want to change.   As long as more books are being written and more authors are made aware of budding literary translators, whoever they may be, there should eventually be more work for more people.  As for the translation itself, I wondered more than once in more than one of the novels about the English used at times. Even without seeing the original Japanese, or any other language, you can tell pretty easily if there’s something wrong.   In one or two of Higashino’s books, there are two translators involved.  Not that team efforts are a bad idea but you have to be more careful, to make sure you’re singing the same tune.  I’m sure they check everything before it’s published but even experts (including at the publisher’s end of things) make mistakes as the Japanese proverb goes (猿も木から落ちる ).

It’s always good to widen the literary net and though Keigo Higashino is a pretty prolific writer, I think that’s enough of him, for now. If anyone can recommend any other Japanese crime writer I’d be delighted to hear suggestions, male or female.  Just so I have someone to compare Keigo Higashino with,  and maybe I’m not quite finished with crime (fiction) just yet.

I’ve got a couple of books on the go at the moment but when I’m done with those, I’ll return to Natsume Soseki as I bought two of his novels – Kokoro and Sanshiro – before Christmas but I’ve not yet started them.  I’ve read Kokoro before but it was years ago and I borrowed it from a library so I thought I’d like to read it again.  That, along with Sanshiro which I’ve not read, should fill out my NS collection a bit more too (if not complete it, I don’t know how many more works of his I have left to read and may have them all now).  The translator of this copy of Kokoro is a female translator which is nice to see but again a good translation is what matters.  I hope I am not offending any translators, male or female, here.

I also bought and have already finished a book of essays about different members of Japanese society towards the end of the 19th and around the turn of the 20th century which was very interesting. It’s also called Kokoro (though with an added subtitle: hints and echoes of a Japanese inner life).  I have to admit though that there were one or two essays I felt like skipping!  It’s by Lafcadio Hearn, one of whose former houses I paid a visit to while in Japan last year (he was mainly based in Matsue but lived and worked in other parts of Japan as well during his life there).  He was a contemporary of Natsume Soseki.

It’s really cool to have new books at hand by favoured authors knowing that you’ll enjoy them when you are ready to pick them up. Same goes for other writers and other books that you anticipate reading for other reasons.  So any tsundoku is never long term in this bookworm’s space!  And as much as I like to declutter, books are almost never included in my decluttering drives.

One last book I bought was a craft manual – for the Japanese stitching technique known as sashiko.   I’ll talk about that in another post.  Anyone tried it who’s usually not a craft-oriented person?  I’d love to hear how you got on with it.


Criminal Minds (not the tv show!)

Crime novels the

next thing to look out for but

only if books are cheap!


Has anyone read Keigo Higashino’s stuff?  I’m interested in getting started on his crime novels which are apparently the best-selling crime novels in Japan (not that they have to be best-selling but you might as well go for the best!).   I saw one reviewed lately but was taken aback by the price of it, even for a paperback!  I’ll try to get my hands on a copy somewhere as this novelist looks good to me and it will be a change from the usual stuff I read from Japan.   Incidentally, I came across a new work by Murakami H lately.  The hardback copy only which was also ridiculously pricey.  I haven’t spent that much on individual books since I bought  his 1Q84 (in its split set up of 1-2 and then 3 separately) and while that was worth it, it was hard to part with that much cash in one go at the time!   Anyway, this new one really doesn’t look that good to me.

I got two of Murakami’s first published short stories (re-published in the one book) out of the library a couple of months ago but I just couldn’t get into them.   I guess I have Murakami fatigue.   I rarely bring books back to the library unread so that was something.

Anyway back to all things crime, I managed to see A third murder on the plane on the way to Japan earlier this year.  It’s a good film starring Koji Yakusho.   I was stoked to see it was a film option as sometimes the film options aren’t great and I did want to see that one.   Also, this actor happens to promote this airline so that’s possibly another reason but not necessarily as he’s almost always in good films, which I’m sure show up on some airline film programme somewhere around the world.

A film I still haven’t seen which I have in my recommended film list is After the Storm, already out a year or more.  Another more recent one, to return to the crime theme, is called Shoplifters.  This looks really good, looking again at a complex family set up.  I think it is the late Kiki Kirin’s last film.

I’ll be looking out for those two family-themed films directed by Hirozaku Kore-eda who is just brilliant, as I may have said before 😉

I caught a pretty good drama lately – a horror called Crow’s Blood.  It’s about a transfer student with a major secret which brings nothing but woe to the school.  It’s quite good for something set in a high school (which I usually avoid) but Japan does horror pretty well as we know (though South Korea is catching up or has maybe surpassed Japan in the horror field). I’ve added that and another drama I checked out lately to my list in the drama and documentaries page.

Well, if anyone can recommend any other good dramas or novels, crime or otherwise, drop me a line.