殺人鬼(金田一耕助 Reading Club)

Welcome to the 殺人鬼 Reading Thread!

image

This book is part of the 金田一耕助 reading club. It is a collection of short stories mostly set in between the early novels, but can be read as a stand-alone.

You can buy it here:
Amazon

Chronology of the short stories according to Wikipedia

Stories included in this volume are bolded.

1946年(昭和21年) 数え34歳

9月初旬『 百日紅の下にて
9月下旬 - 10月上旬『獄門島』
10 - 11月ごろ『車井戸はなぜ軋る』
11月中旬『 黒蘭姫 』『蝙蝠と蛞蝓』

1947年(昭和22年) 数え35歳

3月下旬『暗闇の中の猫(原題「暗闇の中にひそむ猫」)』
3月26日、28日 - 30日『黒猫亭事件(原題「黒猫」)』
4月中旬 - 26日『 殺人鬼
9月28日 - 10月11日『悪魔が来りて笛を吹く』

1948年(昭和23年) 数え36歳

5月5日 - 9日『夜歩く』
5月中旬 - 9月初旬『八つ墓村』

「中略」

1958年(昭和33年) 数え46歳

3月18日、25日『柩の中の女』
5月19日 - 21日、28日『火の十字架』
5月25日『薔薇の別荘』
5月28日『瞳の中の女』
6月29日、7月25日、26日、8月15日、16日、9月4日、5日、10日、18日、10月下旬『悪魔の寵児』
8月16日、17日『 香水心中
9月中旬『霧の山荘』

We will start reading the first two stories on May 2nd 2022 and then take a break to read 夜歩く, coming back to the other two stories at a later date.
There will be no weekly threads, all discussion will be had in this thread.

Reading Schedule

Week Start Date Chapter Names Page Count
1 May 2 殺人鬼 ~86
2 May 9 黒蘭姫 ~64
~~~
3 June 13 百日紅の下にて ~45
~~~
4 July 25 香水心中 ~90

Thank you @Jfredel78 for providing the page count.

You can mark your participation status here:

  • I am reading this book
  • I have finished this book
  • I plan to read this book
  • I don’t plan to read this book

0 voters

1 Like

I read the first story! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I like it when Yokomizo has lots of details to relate, so I think it’s too bad it’s not the kind of story that comes with a family tree, but I enjoyed it! There’s plenty of twists and turns. And I like that it ends up pretty much a mess of schemers and murderers, all scheming and murdering each other - it feels like a fun slightly schlockier contrast to the other Yokomizo mysteries read so far.

I found it 100% standalone in terms of Kindaichi’s timeline, but definitely interestingly specific to the immediate post-war time in terms of setting.

Some fun poking around places on google maps

吉祥寺 is a real station, and there’s a handful of things called 成蹊 a bit to the NW of it (including a university that might have been around in some form at the time from what I can tell), so I figure their walk at the beginning looked a bit like this:


I was tempted to look for an avenue beginning with the right letter and a field… but I get the distinct impression Musashino has a lot fewer wheat fields and empty lots nowadays!!

Ginza, where he asked for an advance on his royalties is much more central in Tokyo, and the 中央線 is still what you’d take to go between the two, I imagine.

Between 神田 and 御茶ノ水 (what an interesting name!) stations, it looks like there is indeed a ガード:

Although it doesn’t seem like an astronomically dangerous height to me… I wonder how the side facing the water looked at the time:

There’s also this way taller one nearby - it matches less the route description but I wonder if maybe this is the one talked about in the story and maybe the other one was built later?


(that’s 100% speculation based on this one looking way scarier to me)

After playing around a little with this cool website I think my speculation is probably wrong and the route and bridge remains the same as it was at the time of the story - it does look more precarious pre remodeling though (looks like they added a walkway):

With everything that happens, and the uncertainty that still hangs over a lot of it, I suppose the moral that still sticks in my head is don’t walk home alone at night with a mystery writer!

3 Likes

Happy Golden Week! With the better part of the week free for reading, I am also finished with the first story now. Planning to move on to 黒蘭姫 next and possibly get to 香水心中 next week.

Anyway, this one was a quick read. As @rodan pointed out, not as many detailed backstories to get bogged down in, which was personally a good thing for me. This story had some 乱歩-esque elements again, but also a touch of Hitchcock and/or Raymond Chandler. Especially since this is set in Tokyo, there’s much more of that hard-boiled urban detective feel here, as opposed to the regional flavors of 本陣殺人事件 and 獄門島.

Another thing I thought was interesting was that for the first time, we have a main character (八代) who is decidedly unlikable. Equally unlikeable is 加奈子, who starts out suspicious and turns into a jet black femme fatale by the end. I had a hard time following the motivations of 賀川 (why did he try to murder 加奈子 in the first place?) and his wife 梅子 (why was she in the house hiding behind the curtain?), not to mention 亀井, who is so much of a specter that no one is ever able to tell whether it’s actually him or an impersonator.

Another strange plot twist was 加奈子’s alter ego 菊江, who shows up abruptly at the end but seems to have existed well before the start of the story. How long has 加奈子 been using that name, and what is the backstory there? I guess we’ll never know.

All in all, not one of 横溝’s better stories, I guess. But it was a light and quick read. And while it definitely works as a standalone story, it was interesting to imagine 金田一 wandering into another strange web of murders not even a month after the conclusion of the 黒猫亭事件. All in a day’s work.

Now it will be over a year until 夜歩く takes place, in May of 昭和23年 (1948). And the next story, 黒蘭姫, will be a flashback to November 1946, just after the events of 車井戸はなぜ軋る.

Last but not least, thanks for doing the geographical research @rodan! Very interesting to connect real places to the events in the story.

2 Likes

Happy Golden Week!

It’s the opposite for me, as I’m off work starting tomorrow, and will have tons of free time strating Saturday. I barely managed to get started (I’m at the 3% mark :joy:) and will play catch up then~

2 Likes

Enjoy! We still have all next week to get through 黒蘭姫, which is quite a bit shorter, so take your time!

2 Likes

I flipped through to check what it says, and it sounds like as for why 賀川 tried to murder 加奈子, Kindaichi in his explanation attributes it to building stress and paranoia between them stuck together due to the plotting and worry of being found out, and in the note at the very end the guy clarifies that it was more like just as a couple of scheming murderers they both just sort of knew the other was going to scheme to murder them eventually.
And as for why 梅子 was behind the curtain - it sounds like she intuited the scheme they were trying to pull making the narrator the witness to frame 亀井, but she wasn’t 100% sure, so she snuck into their house to find information and hid behind a curtain.
… both of which do seem like unusually flimsy reasons to me!
As for 亀井 - I think ultimately the only time he’s seen alive is that intitial walk from the train station? I think I misremembered myself, but I read back over Kindaichi’s explanation and it sounds like 亀井 had discovered the murders (I assume by jealously stalking 加奈子?) and told 梅子 to come to Tokyo and told her about them. So I guess he was intimidating/observing 加奈子 at the time of the first scene, then got murdered and was dead from then on, as 加奈子 and 賀川 realized it would be relatively easy to use the narrator as a witness to pin the murders on him… I think…

I agree it doesn’t seem like Yokomizo’s best or neatest work… Bit of a tangle trying to work out those threads!

2 Likes

I just read a set amount of book per day. Slow and steady wins the race…!

Anyway, this was pretty blech. Although I wasn’t expecting much more, based on the other Yokomizo short stories I’ve read.

Is it even possible to have a more obvious set-up than “Protag reads an article about how anyone could be a secret murderer, and then encounters a creepy sus dude and an unassuming beautiful young woman”? There is some convolution but it doesn’t really add anything imo. It also seems weird to me how Umeko was smart enough to properly dispose of the bloody clothes, but just left the leg and cane in the trash pile by the house?

Protag almost redeemed himself in the final section, but then he didn’t.

EDIT: Oh yeah, also thought it was weird/shoddy writing how part of Kindaichi’s deductions are based on the characters’ personalities, even though Kanako is the only person we meet more than once.

EDIT2: My interpretation/understanding of the unclear points being discussed is

Kanako had Kagawa parading around as Kamei in front of Protag just to create a witness that Kamei was still alive (so that his murder wouldn’t be discovered). When talking to Protag, Umeko realized this plan, and went to the Kagawa house for more info. I don’t think Kagawa/Kanako intended on framing Umeko or Protag for murder, in fact I think the point was to prevent the murder from ever being discovered.

The first scene is indeed the only time we see the real Kamei. I think Kanako’s story of Kamei stalking her (to make her return to him as his rightful/legal wife) was true, but by stalking her he discovered that she and Kagawa were serial killers.

3 Likes

Hmmm… I read over again and I think you’re right – that seems like it doesn’t totally make sense though?
Like if Kamei is alive a little longer than he actually was – but still is seen hanging around the Kagawa house and threatening Kanako… That doesn’t seem like much of a smokescreen…?
Like I guess ultimately it’s Kagawa’s plot to kill Kanako but what was ostensibly the end game?
Maybe the stalking parts were a lie to make Kamei unsympathetic and less likely to be tracked down because of that, and that’s what the ruse would have accomplished?

I guess I just invented the framing motivation in my head as a reason the plot could have resulted in Kamei disappearing in a way that doesn’t draw suspicion against Kagawa and Kanako. :sweat_smile:

EDIT: I guess maybe the goal if that phase had worked out great was for Umeko to just accept he was alive and stop investigating or something…?

1 Like

I don’t think they told us what the long-term plan for making Kamei seem alive was. They might not have had one, could’ve just been a “Make it seem like he’s still alive to prevent any heat now, figure out how to deal with this in the long-term later” sorta thing.

I also think the stalking story was real, because the neighbors (like the doctor’s wife) told the police they had seen Kamei skulking about and knew he was specifically going after Kanako.

1 Like

I enjoyed the second story! The mystery isn’t especially complex but the setting and time period are particularly interesting I thought.

About Kindaichi in particular: The introduction (?) of the sketchy triangle-shaped office in the sketchy triangle-shaped building in ruined Ginza was a really neat thing I wasn’t expecting from one of these short stories. I wonder how much we’ll be seeing that setting going forward?
It’s also interesting to see Kindaichi’s character take shape more - I feel like Yokomizo really leaned on how unkempt he is this time, making me wonder if he’ll go through a Columbo-esque gradual exaggeration of his quirks over time. The mention of dandruff also made the もじゃもじゃ hair rustling a little less charming…

These stories are fine but I’m looking forward to a novel-length one to sink my teeth into more! I took a look at the character list for 夜歩く and I spot a bunch of people with an important sounding last name! :eyes:

2 Likes

Sitting down with some actual time, I agree! Thanks to being on vacation, I managed to read all of 殺人鬼 today. I had to re read the beginning because it had been some time and I guess I must have been pretty tired the first time I read it, I didn’t remember much of it.

I’m not quite sure what I think about it. I enjoyed it well enough -
lots of twists and turns, and I especially enjoy the ways 金田一 makes his first appearance in each story. :smiley:
That said, I didn’t much like our narrator as much as our usual one, and I guess I wasn’t supposed to in the end. I agree the 菊江 twist felt tacked on to have another surprise at the end - and another instance of 金田一 not managing to solve everything, possibly…?

As for motivation on 八代’s part - he was quite taken with 加奈子 (at least according to his own testimony), so that might have certainly been part of it.

I do agree that there’s more meat in the longer stories, and I do enjoy them more. But it was nice to just read through a story like this, too!

That was fun to follow along with! Thanks for sharing!

I feel like that’s part of his deductions in pretty much every case I’ve read so far…? Even though 金田一 doesn’t always meet the people involved himself. I guess he’d get a good enough impression from people’s testimonies/ police investigation or something? But I also think it’s much more obvious in the short stories!

2 Likes

Here are my thoughts about the second story. Some spoilers, not many details about the mystery though.

About 黒蘭姫

Yeah, I mostly agree with you about the stories. So far neither of them has been Yokomizo’s best work. Sometimes they read like the start of a novel abandoned halfway through (殺人鬼), whereas this one was a simple mystery that took 金田一 about a second to solve.

But they do fill in some interesting details, such as the office setting. I was also surprised to see 金田一 portrayed in such a negative light here. Even with the venerable old 本陣 family, he didn’t receive as much scorn as he does from 糟谷 at his office.

Last but not least, these stories continue to be fascinating moreso for their insight into immediate postwar Japan than the mysteries themselves. The department store being reduced from seven floors to three due to lack of goods and customers, the connection to wartime factories, and the 三角ビル suddenly becoming prime real estate during the housing crisis in Tokyo. Very interesting stuff.

So bottom line: bland mystery, but rich period detail and a new side to 金田一耕助.

2 Likes

I mean it more as mysteries for the reader to solve, Kindaichi did have time (some weeks/days) to interview people and learn about them but if the story is meant to be ‘fair’ than we as the reader are apparently expected to go 'Oh yes even though Umeko was right there based on the one scene we got of her killing Kagawa just doesn’t feel like something she’d do" which is a bit ridiculous

Anyway, the second story was much better than the first. Although after I had time for my feelings to settle, even though I don’t think the story was “bad,” it doesn’t really feel “good” either. There wasn’t any sort of trick or clever idea in the murder, it was just an accident that happened. The upside-down newspaper seemed like a weird mistake. The solution felt a bit arbitrary, it didn’t feel like there were any clues actively pointing to/proving the solution. Aki freaking out when “Kuroranhime” showed up also felt like a pretty weak killer reveal. It’s basically the same level as a seance reveal. I do agree that the insight into immediate postwar Japan is interesting.

I think reading old books/stories is interesting because there’s a tangible difference between modern Japanese and Japanese from even just a few decades ago (mainly the usage of katakana/loanwords). You can read Golden Age detective fiction and (aside from the word “call”) it’s basically the same as modern English. (Of course, as soon as I started thinking about this, Kuroranhime started talking about veils and booths and buildings, but I digress…) I took a random (super anecdotal) sample of other books I have, and Nisio Isin’s クビキリサイクル, which is basically a light novel, has tons of katakana/loanwords (and it’s two decades old at this point but whatever), Imamura Masahiro’s 屍人荘の殺人 is more of a novel-novel but still has plenty of katakana, but then Shinzo Mitsuda’s 厭魅の如き憑くもの (which takes place in the 50s) looks exactly like the Yokomizo stories–big blocks of prose with nary a katakana in sight. 厭魅の如き憑くもの is big on creating an insular, antiquated atmosphere, and it seems one of the ways it does that is through a stylistic choice to avoid loanwords, which is pretty neat and not something I realized on my first read.

2 Likes

Read the last story (but not the third one). I liked it, which is more than I can say for the others… The solution wasn’t anything special but it was fun seeing the twists and turns developed from what seemed like such a simple premise. I was hoping it wasn’t Kindaichi, to be honest… We didn’t get a single モジャ after all!

And of course once against there’s gross abuse of women. At least this time the narration acknowledges that what the guy did is weird, but there’s still the issue that Yokomizo chose to put it in the story, since Yumi could’ve been 10 years older and literally nothing would’ve changed.

2 Likes

My thoughts on 百日紅の下にて from last month:

The briefest story in the collection is also the most interesting mystery. The way that 佐伯’s relationship with 由美 is set up is very creepy, while 金田一’s calm deconstruction of the mystery gives the reader a chance to guess what happened as each option is laid out. Also fills in another piece of the puzzle in terms of the 金田一 chronology, revealing that 金田一 actually had two mysteries to solve on his way back from the war - one that was already finished, and one soon to occur out on 獄門島. It’s a subdued and evocative story that cuts right to the chase and doesn’t outstay its welcome. This was my favorite story in the collection by a long shot.

2 Likes

I came to check in with you how things are going and if everyone is ready to get to the last story and finish this book - and what do I see, I haven’t commented on 百日紅の下にて at all. :face_with_open_eyes_and_hand_over_mouth: Oops.

Spoilers for 百日紅の下にて

It’s been a while, but re-reading your comments on it, I agree that it had an interesting vibe. It was super creepy reading about the old guy detailing his grooming of that little girl…

Yeah… at the same time, it does add a layer of uncomfortable-ness to the reading experience for me. Yet another ‘victim’/‘perpetrator’ we can’t like. That’s a bit of a theme, isn’t it, unlikeable characters?

Okay, back to that last story. In the table in the OP I put the start date for 香水心中 as July 25. We’d originally wanted to read it after S&M vol4, which really only ends on the 31st. I think we went for the 25th because the last week of S&M is so short…? Not sure anymore!

Anyway, it’s already the middle of the week. Do we want to keep it this week, or push it back a week into next month? I’m fine either way!

Or are you all done already? :eyes:

Are we all feeling ready to get back into some Kindaichi shenanigans after the break?

2 Likes

I haven’t started (but I have finished S&M), I’m good starting 香水心中 whenever.

2 Likes

I am finished with 詩的私的ジャック now and ready to discuss 香水心中 whenever you decide to read it.

Then, next up is ハつ墓村, right? When do we want to start on that?

1 Like

Shall we just leave it as is and start the reading this week then? Since 香水心中 is on the longer side and this week is half over, we can just say we’re taking the rest of this week and next to finish or something.

And then start in on ハつ墓村 after that, yep!

I don’t think I’ll need a break for that… but let’s poll in the main thread. :grin:

1 Like

I was gonna read the last two stories in the collection at some point during the break, but in the end I read the first chapter of 香水心中, then paused for a long time before getting back to it unfortunately having therefore forgotten the names and relationships that had been meticulously explained to me, and decided to restart from scratch at a later date when I was in more of a ‘reading a lot and keeping track of details’ mood. :sweat_smile:

So I’ll just try to use the S&M club pick finishing up and Eight Graves being scheduled as a reason to hurry up and do just that!

1 Like