本陣殺人事件 Short Stories(金田一耕助 Reading Club)

Welcome to 本陣殺人事件 - Short Stories Edition!

This book is part of the 金田一耕助 reading club. We will read the 2 short stories published with 本陣殺人事件. The main story was read by the Advanced Book Club here. It is part of a series, but the individual parts can be read as a stand-alone.

You can buy it here:

There will be no weekly threads, all discussion will be had in this thread.

Reading Schedule
We will start reading on April 11 2022.

Week Start Date Story Page Count
Week 1 Apr 11th 車井戸はなぜ軋る ~76
Week 2 Apr 18th 黒猫亭事件(はしがき ~ 五) ~60
Week 3 Apr 25th 黒猫亭事件(六 ~ 結尾) ~65

Finally, it’s time to start 車井戸はなぜ軋る! I already started reading this, and I have to say that it is very difficult to keep all of the characters straight. Even more so than 獄門島. But even though this is a lesser-known short story, that doesn’t mean that there’s no convenient list of characters to be found online.

Also, I already have a question. Does anyone get the 二重瞳孔 thing? I know that 二重まぶた is a big topic of conversation in Japan, but two pupils?! Maybe this is just common knowledge that I’m missing out on, but I didn’t get what this was about, even though I have a feeling that it’s going to turn out to be an important clue later on.

Last but not least, I learned that お葛の葉 is not a leaf… :flushed:


There seems to be a medical condition where people have two pupils in their eyes - the wiki page talks about two pupils (the black part) in one iris (? Not sure this is the correct English word. The part that’s brown/blue etc), but on Google images you can find pictures of both that as well as two complete pupils with both the black and colored part in one eye. Probably a lot of photoshop involved in some of them as well.

What I found interesting is that according to that wiki page apparently in olden times China (and later Japan as well), they ascribed this and other bodily differences to old aristocracy/famous people.

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Interesting. I saw those pictures on Google but I didn’t realize that was a real/common thing. Eyes seem to be pretty important in this story though, so I’m sure it has some meaning for the mystery…

it is very difficult to keep all of the characters straight

Agree. I had to look up the names in the wiki several times.

ネタバレ Huge Spoiler + 感想. Most towards the end of the story. Don't open if you're still reading the story.

While 鶴代 was doubting the identity of 大助, I felt sorry for him. What if he IS your big brother? The change in his temperament could be because of him coming back from the war. As it turned out, he was indeed 大助。気の毒な大助…

About the information asymmetry of letters: we only got to read 鶴代’s letter, but not 慎吉’s rely on 鶴代. So we don’t know what he wrote to her. It could be that he’s inducing 鶴代 to think in a certain way, inducing 鶴代 to get the handprint, or persuading 鶴代 to conduct a crime. The story didn’t go in that direction, but I would not be surprised if another detective novel uses this trick. Anyway, 慎吉 is suspicious to me at an early stage.

The short story is similar to 本陣殺人事件 in that the motive of both stories is related to purity. Probably the author, 横溝正史, likes to discuss ethics in his stories.

There are a couple scenes that I thought would be related to the solution of the puzzle.

  1. Neighbors got married
  2. The grandmother demanded to take out the 屏風
  3. The grandmother was a little disappointed about 大助 coming back home, and
  4. 金田一 asked 慎吉 to keep the letters private from the grandmother

But I was not able to find anything from book reviews online. As I reread these parts, I think these scenes are more or less reflecting the historical background of Japan. Below is my explanation to some of the scenes:

  1. Interestingly, the broken 小野宇一郎 didn’t know about inflation. He stopped asking about the 屏風 because his son started to bring money back home.
  2. 銀さん and 加奈江 got married, even though 加奈江 was married to 銀さん’s big brother. Though it was ethnically controversial, people still do it in wartime. Seeing them get married, the grandmother, 槇, started to consider the possibility of letting 大助の妻, 梨枝, and 慎吉 be together. That’s why 鶴代 saw the grandmother pondering about something and was disappointed for a second when 大助 was back.
  3. 金田一 didn’t want the grandmother to know the truth because it’s better to not tell the grandmother the truth: 1) 大助 is not 伍一, 2) 大助 thought his wife dated 慎吉, which the grandmother was actually planning to do that, 3) 鶴代 was dead because she found out the truth. The grandmother might also feel shame knowing the truth. I’m not entirely sure about 金田一’s reasons, so I’m just guessing.

Hey, good to see we have a new member! Looking forward to reading your thoughts once I finish the story. :+1:

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I started reading today and finished the first chapter that introduced everyone (I hope :joy:). I’m pretty confident I’ll take all week to read this, but it feels doable.

I wonder if we’ll learn who our narrator is eventually? And why 金田一 gave them all that. It doesn’t feel like the narrator we met in 本陣殺人事件 to me.


Stuff I found interesting:

車井戸はなぜ軋る sub 大助かえる

In the sub chapter titled 大助かえる, the second letter only says 「ダ イスケカヘルスグ コイ」マキ. I tried to look that up, because I have no clue what it could be. マキ I think means she send him some book or scroll or something like that. But what? Are we supposed to understand, or will it become clear later on?

There’s a couple things I found interesting in the next letter from 昭和二十一年七月六日:
お年よられたお祖母さん - I’d never seen お年よる in (polite) passive before, had to think a bit. Also さきおととい. New reading for 一作昨日 for me.

Also a question!
– or not! I failed to find it when I was looking for 焉とばかり, but found it just now as 我(われ)関(かん)せず焉(えん) on goo.

And starting with われかんせず gives me an entry in the dictionary as well. Pretty much the same meaning with an extra word. :man_facepalming:

車井戸はなぜ軋る sub かたしろ絵馬

In the first letter in this chapter, from 昭和二十一年七月十二日, a bit before the end of this letter she talks about how her grandmother and sister in law were too taken aback to accompany おりん to the door - I thought it was funny that there’s a typo making the お祖母さん into an お母さん. :stuck_out_tongue:

Speculations up to かたしろ絵馬 second letter

I haven’t read beyond this point yet. So far I think we’re being led to believe that the home coming 大助 is in fact 伍一. The 屏風, the fact that their one major difference is gone - the fact that おりん believes it to be so.
Either it really is, and that’s what our mystery is based on - or we’re led to think it is, but it’s really 大助 after all, and everyone’s machinations bring about misfortune on all involved. :sweat_smile: So far I’ve known 横溝 to be big on karma that way. The grandmother’s marriage plans probably play into it as well somehow.

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車井戸はなぜ軋る sub 大助かえる

I don’t remember this story very well and haven’t dug up the book to see if this makes sense, but it looks to me like maybe:

大助 帰る, すぐ こい! - マキ

“Daisuke will return (soon), come at once! - Maki”
(the Daisuke and the come at once parts seem to stand out, and he for e is the kind of thing that often seems to happen in like, old poems and stuff so that’s what it looks like what’s going on here in this hand-writing from an older setting)

I did look a little bit at the book and wikipedia page after that and I guess お槇 would be the Maki in question? I suppose the text with the kana and weird kerning is meant to show either illiterateness, distress, or attempts to disguise the meaning. Again I do not remember this detail so this is all speculation!


Oooh! That makes a lot of sense, actually. :woman_facepalming: I’m almost sure that that has to be it, now that I’ve seen it. It seems so obvious now. :sweat_smile:

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Okay, I’m finished reading the story now. Just like 獄門島, a really depressing story about the postwar breakdown of a once prosperous family. Almost a companion piece to 獄門島 in a way, but also with themes in common with 本陣, as you noted.

Spoilers (regarding the conclusion)

As I said, I see connections to both 本陣 and 獄門島. Like in 本陣, we have a powerful grandmother at the head of the family who sort of wills the murders into happening without having any sort of direct connection. We also have a husband murdering his wife over concerns of purity.

There are a lot of similarities with 獄門島 as well. Sons coming home from war. Concerns about who will carry on the family line. Why did the grandmother want 真吉 to marry 梨枝 anyway? Who knows. I guess once a thought takes root, it’s hard to shake.

But yeah, 気の毒の大助, and also 気の毒の小野家. I thought the scene where 宇一郎 begged for the 屏風 was really sad. From that point on, I thought the grandmother was pretty ruthless and figured she must be up to something. And in the end, her plans turn out to be in vain. Just like the convoluted plan carried out by the three elders in 獄門島.

Finally, I confess that the conclusion would have been more satisfying to me if the dead man had actually been 伍一. The idea that he gouged out his eyes just to get revenge on the 本位田 family was a skin-crawling 江戸川乱歩-esque concept that would have added a grotesque angle to the whole sordid affair.

As it is though, it just feels like a sad story about a family killing each other off for no good reason. Not quite as satisfying, strangely enough. Haha.

As an entry in the 金田一 series (more spoilers)

At first I felt a bit annoyed to realize that 金田一耕助 doesn’t even appear in the story until the very end. But having read to the end, I’m glad that we chose to read this one directly after 獄門島 after all. As I said above, the themes are very complementary, and having the 金田一 chronology in the back of your head adds an extra layer of resonance to the conclusion, I think. Remembering what low spirits 耕助 was in at the end of 獄門島, regarding the needless decimation of the 本鬼頭 family, it’s easy to see how he would have been drawn in by the 本位田 case upon his return. The sad thing is, since the murder and investigation were taking place just as 耕助 left for 獄門島, this ended up being yet another series of tragic deaths that he was unable to prevent. Just more emotional baggage for 耕助, 気の毒の耕助よ…

(Spoilers for 獄門島 are blurred)

For a short story, that was quite a heavy week of reading! Maybe 黒猫亭事件 will be a bit lighter? We can hope…


Might be good to note specifically 獄門島-related spoilers, in case someone’s read this and not that. :slight_smile:

Interesting to hear about the experience reading it after 獄門島 though! I’m glad it felt like it clicked into place chronology wise!

I think I remember that one being at least a bit less dense detail-wise. Probably not lighter tonally though…


After the Easter weekend left me with almost no time to read, I sat down to finish 車井戸はなぜ軋る today. What a ride! I don’t think I can quite formulate my thoughts just yet, I’ll have to come back to that after allowing it to digest a bit.


Hope you’re ready for 黒猫亭事件 right away this week! :sweat_smile:


Planning to get right into it tonight! This next one is so long it’s almost not even a short story and there’s a cat in the title. I’m looking forward to it! :grin:

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Replies to spoilers about 車井戸はなぜ軋る

I thought similarly! I always had that in the back of my mind (? this English sounds weird, but I can’t think of how else to put it rn) while reading.

That’s an interesting observation. For a little while, I considered the possibility that it might have been 鶴代 herself who would commit a crime, maybe in a moment of ‘craziness’ since she seemed to be becoming more paranoid over time. Or that she was writing in a way to make her brother suspect someone else, while she prepared to commit the crime. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I think that might have been interesting to read.

横溝 has been exploring ideas relating to 封建主義 quite a bit! It’s interesting to think that that would have been relevant social criticism at the time, while for me reading it now, it is merely an interesting historical detail.

I was able to ‘identify’ with, that is understand 大助’s motives a bit more. Taking into account likely PTSD, and then his new blindness and the hostile environment his home has become…

I don’t know, I really like that about these stories. They’re not some grotesque, almost otherworldly horror scenario, but almost every-day, sort of hopeless, horrible acts, done in vain.

I agree! Really nice to see the reference. Not so nice to think about 金田一 stumbling onto these crumbling families everywhere. :frowning: (Very slight 獄門島 spoiker)

I think I mentioned this before, but it really feel like I’ve gotten used to some of the ways 横溝 likes to use twists. Some of the turns this story (車井戸) took felt almost familiar. I really liked the way it was told in letters, too. I think so far 横溝 employed a different narrative style with every story? I like that! Makes me look forward to what else he might have explored in other stories!

Also, I ended up reading up to and including part 三 of 黒猫亭.
Finally my questions about the narrator in 獄門島 and how the narrator and 金田一 are connected got answered!


The problem with reading early in the week is that now I have to wait until next week - and we end on a bit of a cliffhanger this week. :sob:

I like the return of the diagrams here. I really, really love those, haha. I think it’s really interesting how we always get a bit of a hint at what’s awaiting us before getting into the actual story (like here with the はしがき again), while still keeping the details back to be discovered reading. And this time we learned beforehand what was not going to happen/have happened with this case - only to have everything pointing towards exactly that scenario! It’s kind of vexing, but it also makes me curious to find out more. I haven’t read a lot of detective stories (aside from Sherlock Holmes), so I don’t know if this is a common device to hook readers. It’s working on me, in any case. :joy:


I’m really enjoying 黒猫亭事件 so far. I really have no idea where this is going, although I have a feeling that things will not turn out the way the clues seem to suggest…

I especially liked the part at the beginning where the murder scene was discovered. Very creepy… as grotesque as 横溝 has gotten so far. Where 車井戸はなぜ軋る only hinted at a more twisted outcome that ultimately didn’t manifest, this story boasts some ドス黒さ that would make 江戸川乱歩 proud.


刑事s in Japan must be hard-working. They had to visit every single person who was related to the owners, in person. 風間 doesn’t seem to be very suspicious to me, because of his transparency. I’m more curious about how two black cats are contributing to the case. It looks like the 刑事s haven’t seriously discussed about the cat. But, you know, “black cat” is in the title.

BTW, does anyone know the furigana for 日兆 and お繁(おはん?)?

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I’m really curious about that too! At first I was considering that maybe it was just about the bar’s name, but after they found the dead cat, I’m pretty sure it’s relevant somehow!

I’ve been calling him にっちょう but sadly haven’t been able to find anything either. This site seems to suggest that recently priests use kunyomi before, and onyomi after 家出する. What have you been calling him?

お繁 I’ve been reading as おしげ. I wish I knew how to look for this kinda of information online! :sweat_smile:

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