半落ち Reading Club

Hi! I mentioned this a little bit in the read every day threads, but I’m going to be reading 半落ち by 横山秀夫 starting in January and would be happy to have company if anyone wants to read along.
ooh so dark

I’ve posted the schedule I’m going to be following below with the first 7 weeks being around 30 pages and the last 3 being 50 page assignments. I’m planning to do an intensive read of the book to sharpen my grammar skills, but no one else is required to do so if it doesn’t please them.

Quick question answers:

Is this book beginner friendly?
No, it is not. This would be a typical book for the Advanced Book Club on here.

Are there disturbing themes?
Yes, depending on your personal limits. At minimum there is mention of murder and sexual assault. I do not know how graphically anything will be described.

Is there an ebook available?
Yes, there is! BookwalkerRakuten

What is the book about?

Japanese summary

「妻を殺しました」。現職警察官・梶聡一郎が、アルツハイマーを患う妻を殺害し自首してきた。動機も経過も素直に明かす梶だが、殺害から自首までの2日間の行動だけは頑として語ろうとしない。梶が完全に“落ち”ないのはなぜなのか、その胸に秘めている想いとはーー。日本中が震えた、ベストセラー作家の代表作。2003年このミステリーがすごい! 2002年週刊文春ミステリーベスト10 第1位。

English summary (machine translation)

I killed my wife. Soichiro Kaji, an incumbent police officer, has turned himself in for the murder of his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Kaji is honest about his motive and the process of the murder, but he stubbornly refuses to talk about his actions during the two days between the murder and his surrender. Why has Kaji not completely “fallen off the wagon,” and what thoughts does he have in his heart? This bestselling author’s masterpiece made the whole country tremble. No. 1 in the Weekly Bunshun Mystery Top 10 in 2002.

What’s the schedule?
Pages taken from the paperback version I have. If a week starts and ends on the same page it’s because in my version the section cut is mid-page.

Week 1 - Jan 2: 0-23; 23 pages; Start 1.1, 1.2

Week 2 - Jan 9: 23-51; 28 pages; 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6

Week 3 - Jan 16: 51-79; 28 pages; 1.7- end of chapter

Week 4 - Jan 23: 80-107; 27 pages; 2.1, 2.2, 2.3

Week 5 - Jan 30: 108 - 142; 34 pages; 2.4 - end of chapter

Week 6 - Feb 6: 143 - 174; 31 pages; 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4

Week 7 - Feb 13: 174-202; 28 pages; 3.5 - end of chapter

Week 8 - Feb 20: 203-254; 51 pages; chapter 4 (entirety)

Week 9 - Feb 27: 255-306; 50 pages; chapter 5 (entirety)

Week 10 - Mar 6: 307-357; 50 pages; chapter 6 (entirety)

Are you interested in joining?

  • Yes, count me in!
  • Maybe
  • Absolutely not
  • I just want to click a poll

0 voters

Would you be reading an ebook or physical copy?

  • Paper
  • Digital
  • I just want to click a poll

0 voters

Character list (spoilers blurred)















小峰 ーこみね;刑事課長

山崎 ーやまさき;警部補

笹岡 ーささおか;本部警務課調査官

栗田 ーくりた;人事担当の課長補佐

俊哉 ーとしや;梶の息子

中尾 ーなかお;東洋新聞の記者





岩国鼎 ーいわくに・かなえ;W地検検事正

今井綾子 ーいまい・あやこ;製薬会社の専務の秘書。自殺

千鶴子 ーちづこ; 佐瀬の元妻?

植村学 ーうえむら・まなぶ;佐瀬と司法研修所で一緒だった男

島村康子 ーしまむら・やすこ;梶啓子の姉。56歳


田沼満男 ーたぬま・みつお?;K駅の目撃者

藤原 ーふじわら;書記官。来年定年
中尾洋平 ーなかお・ようへい;東洋新聞の記者。32歳

阿久津ーあくつ;東洋新聞の上位の者。 伊予のT大の後輩
梶昭介 ーかじ・しょうすけ;梶の祖父
植村謙一 ーうらむら・けんいち; 植村学の兄
藤見泰造 ーふじみ・たいぞう;植村学のボス弁
藤見範夫 ーふじみ・のりお;藤見泰造の息子
植村亜紀子 ーうらむら・あきこ;植村学の妻
植村亜真美 ーうらむら・まみ;植村学の娘


I have already bought the book and I’m looking forward to starting it! Now how on earth I can have enough free time on January to do so is still very much unclear to me, but I’ll manage somehow, I’m sure. :sweat_smile: I may go crazy in the process, but worth it


I started a bit early to see how I got on in terms of time given I’m going a close read and I’m reading a paperback. I just finished 1.1 and decided that I’d share the usual character notes I make in the home post. If there’s a desire to make it a wiki let me know and I can ask the mods.

Also I’m planning to do this as a single thread as we have only 4 people, is that ok with everyone?


I was also thinking about already starting today (now that the ご飯 book is out of the way :sweat_smile:) because I am a bit concerned regarding the book’s difficulty (in combination with my other reading plans :grin:)

Great, thanks! I always find it helpful to have a list of characters somewhere if there happen to be more than a small handful.

Sounds good to me! We have good chapter numbers so if we make sure to always add the respective number to our comments and to freely apply spoiler tags, that should work out just fine. :+1:
(and if it really doesn’t, we can always change things later on.)

Can you elaborate a bit more on what exactly you are doing? Because for me that’s sort of normal do read like this, you know… :thinking: But I’m usually not taking notes (or not as many) so I’m sure you do it even more intensely than I do, and I’d be happy to hear about your technique.

Would you like to share them maybe? This doesn’t mean you should do anything extra of course! If you scribbled your notes on a sheet of paper, then a pic of said paper would be perfectly fine for me.


Interesting – it’s definitely not how I normally read. I typically keep moving forward to the next sentence without worrying too much about the finer details that I could in theory check up in a dictionary.


My plan is to start reading this after I’m done with this week’s Eugenia, which, taking into account the special nature of today and tomorrow, will probably be on the 2nd or 3rd of January. I hope it’s not so hard to read that I fall behind. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I also usually read semi-deeply, in that I look up every word, and reread a sentence if it doesn’t make total sense the first time. But if it’s still not crystal clear, I’ll usually move on, unless I feel it’s essential for following the plot. A super-deep read for me would be to properly analyze what everything does in any given complicated sentence I couldn’t immediately make sense of. I’ve been wanting to do that for ages, but the truth is, I’m too eager to read on to pause for too long. I’ve started keeping handwritten notes of interesting words, just because I have nice notebooks that are sitting empty, but this too I neglect when I’m very impatient to read on, so only words from the beginning of books tend to be collected in those notebooks. :sweat_smile:


I went ahead and marked the stopping points in my ebook so I can get started right away as soon as I catch up with 封印再度 and this week’s ユージニア and noticed that I don’t have sub chapters 2.0 or 3.0… Is it a mistake that they’re included in the breakdown, or is this a difference between the paper book and ebook versions I need to be aware of - that is, do the sub chapters shift in numbering and I need to read one more sub chapter? For reference, my second chapter has 8 sub chapters.


It’s not as hard as I remember 64 being. So far it’s a lot less poetic, although I’m still enjoying the atmosphere created by the author. My struggles with 64 had a lot to do with very beautiful, but roundabout, descriptions.

I usually just flow through and let the feeling of sentences come to me without worrying about getting them precisely accurate. It works for me 95% of the time, and then 5% of the time I have to go reread because I misunderstood something.
I’m starting to feel the limits of this method though, at least for my own sense of satisfaction, and so I’m purposefully deepening my understanding using a text that I know will give me lots of great grammar to work with.

They’re definitely not in a great sharing state :sweat: Some of it is just me jotting down the opening sentence 「茶柱が立った」and a Google search for what that looks like (very helpful pictures). Others are sentences I didn’t get perfectly on first read so I vaguely translated:

一係を仕切る鎌田班長の声を聞くまではトレイにも立てない;he couldn’t even go to the bathroom until he heard the voice of Kamata, leader of division 1.

Others are sentences I just found interesting turns of phrase


and then others are stuff like

キンタイ(緊逮)→ 緊急逮捕 - arrest w/o warrent

死なせてたまるか → I won’t let you die (usually a positive thing…)

I also had two sentences I couldn’t get 100% on, so I noted them as to ask my tutors:

期は志木の一つ上だ → is this read ご?Does this mean he’s a year older? A year more senior? p.10
三つの強行犯係を束ねる指導感の立場で言うなら、梶総一朗の妻殺しは単なる自首事件だ。→ what is this first clause? if you asked 3 強行犯係?

I’m kind of guessing a bit which parts to spoiler here :sweat_smile: Opening chapter is a bit trickier.

:dotted_line_face: whoops. Yesterday I thought, “hmm, I should make it more explicit which sections instead of ex 2 - 2.2; I’ll list those all out!” and…didn’t check if the .0s were a thing :sweat_smile: I’ll fix that in a bit


While you’re at it: I understand that you may want to re-read subsections as part of your studies, but do you really deem it necessary to impose that on everybody? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Counting and reading are separate skills, I’ll have you know :melting_face:


Finished Chapter 1.1 because I wanted to checkout the difficulty in advance for a bit.
And yes, it’s difficult for me :sweat_smile: as my vocabulary is apparently pretty weak in the areas required here (I found about 100 words I did not know at all or did not remember at all :face_with_spiral_eyes:). Also, there are sooo many names :sweat_smile: - I need to check the characters list more often as I confused myself a few times here. Altogether this means I’m at about 6.5 pages per hour :sob: but I’m not giving up just yet as the story really pulled me in from the first minute.
Especially with the plot twist they had in the beginning… :dizzy_face:

Oh and thanks to everybody who commented on their reading techniques, and @pocketcat for sharing the notes! I always enjoy seeing what others wonder about.


横山秀夫 does not hold back on vocab :sweat_smile:

Oh my gosh I know I’m already so interested. I’ve purposefully not finished the section since I established my reading speed (while verrrry slow compared to normal given what I’m doing) is going to be fast enough to complete the weekly assignments and I don’t want to be rushing ahead :joy:


All this talk had me intrigued, so I checked out the first part of chapter 1.
He does not hold back on vocab, which doesn’t scare me off usually, but he especially doesn’t hold back on very police-specific vocab which I will never bother to study properly :joy: The 課 and the 本部, 係, 幹部 and so on. Maybe this book will teach me through immersion.
I liked the expressions

One little question I had with this expression (it’s not really important, just wondering how others interpreted this):

(he‘s wondering why 鎌田 isn’t calling)

普通ではない、の思いが毒のように体を駆け巡る。飛ばれた? ありえない。

Is this simply 逃げられた? Or 窓から飛ばれた?


Hey :wave:

I took this to mean the latter, as iirc before that bit he was thinking about how they had lots of people observe the building with binoculars, so I thought that he wanted to imply that the only possible way to get out of the building should be through jumping out of the window.

Yep, and among all of these he uses names that look like normal words to me :sweat_smile: That has been my biggest challenge so far, language-wise…


Thinking about it again (+ taking into account the binoculars part), I think it’s actually simply 逃げられた. As in, through the window (or door, I guess). With 窓から飛ばれた I meant suicide. But observation with binoculars doesn’t prevent 高野 from committing suicide, so he must mean 逃げられた.


Hmmm, but wasn’t his apartment on the 5th floor or something? So jumping out of the window would almost inevitably mean death, even if he did not mean to kill himself in the first place :thinking:
OK I double checked and on the first page it says 『小森マンション』508号室 so this could mean 5th floor, or it could mean “this building has a weird numbering scheme” :woman_shrugging:


Well, there muste be other ways of escaping from a window than jumping to your death (neighbor’s balcony, rope, idk). But the 飛ばれた probably simply means 逃げられた and not 窓から飛び自殺した here. If the police were really worried about the suspect committing suicide, surely they would do more than just have a few policemen watch his window and door at all times? I think this is more about flight risk. Hence when thinking “飛ばれた?ありえない” 志木 probably means “no, he can’t have escaped, we’ve been observing him”. But I’m not 100% sure.
I had already forgotten the room number, so thanks for checking. :smiley:


Right, just finished 1.1 and it took me ages. My head is a little woozy from the cold though, and I had a million distractions, plus a book is always harder in the beginning, so I’m sure it’s more my fault than the book’s. All the police ranks and department names are a little confusing (my brain tends to shut down with long strings of kanji, and the dictionary is unhelpful), but like @Myria I hope to eventually get them through immersion. As long as I can follow the plot I won’t worry too much about those.

Anyway, strong start. I appreciated that we started with a different case to the one we are supposed to be focusing on (although who knows, this one may still continue to play a role). A realistic glimpse into a police officer’s (never mind the rank, I don’t remember) complicated work life, with several cases playing out at once. A nice contrast to some simpler mysteries out there where the main case is the only thing that matters and everyone has all the time in the world to deal with it disregarding everything else.

That’s the sense I got too, but admittedly the alternative meaning is also a kind of escape.

I too was unclear on those, so please let us know what they say!

I know I said I hope to just eventually learn through immersion, but I wonder if it would be helpful to gradually compile a glossary of police terms, if there isn’t one out there already. I know that I at least am very likely to keep coming across such terms in my reading, so the sooner I get familiar with them the better. :thinking:


:sweat_smile: So I love police procedurals and I have already learned all these terms so those ones aren’t bothering me. But fun fact - I don’t know what most of them mean in English. I just know what they mean relative to each other because the rank is more important than the English word to me (which I don’t know anyways). So I learned that

Ie, from things like this chart (from a drama I really should finish, it was so good...)


Cool chart, thanks :grin:

I also found this link with the ranks and their responsibilities. It includes several police departments and other details on police in Japan, but of course not everything is covered: