殺人鬼(金田一耕助 Reading Club)

Sounds like you’ll be reading along with us after all then! :slight_smile:

I read the first 2 parts of 香水心中.
As always love the descriptions. It’s like we’re getting a really close look at the minutia of daily life at the time.

Things I found interesting: 等々力警部 and 金田一’s friendship. Looking forward to seeing that build over time. It sounds like he’s around a lot. Also… 金田一先生. :eyes:

美代子’s pregnancy. I noticed 上原’s look at her midsection, and how flustered he was and thought to myself: this might be important, let’s take note of it… And then the good inspector goes and hits us on the nose with his observation. It’s surely going to be important (whether as a red herring or not), but I’d rather 横溝 would’ve let us draw our own conclusions for a bit. Still, drawing attention to it like that is a very ominous way to end a section.

It’s nice to read 金田一 again. For all that I’m using the dictionary and google way more than I do for other books, it’s still really nice to get back to a familiar writing style and atmosphere and characters. :slight_smile:

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I’m in the middle of part 4 and I feel like I am completely missing/overlooking something.

How exactly did the 心中 come up? My ‘understanding’ is that in the middle of his conversation with Kindaichi, Todoroki just got up and went to a random group of people three tables over and started questioning them about it (and, for some reason, they knew about it). This… does not feel right.

Pretty sure Todoroki while talking to Kindaichi just happened to overhear the other group talking about it (as news/hearsay), and went over like “excuse me, sorry to butt in - but what were you saying? there was a 心中?”
it says Kindaichi was about to say something when Todoroki cut him off to go ask his question, and says when Kindaichi heard “心中” he also then reacted ぎくっと-ly (suggesting a similar reaction happened to Todoroki just sooner).
And how Todoroki asks the question - 「ちょっとお尋ねしますが、なんですか、きょうこの軽井沢で心中があったんですか?」I think supports that he heard them talking about it and was surprised to the point of immediately going to ask them directly to learn more, presumably since he’s a cop already worried foul play is afoot.
I wonder if we don’t get a description of the initial thing that was overheard just so that our POV is lodged more with Kindaichi still rather than Todoroki directly. (or I suppose to emphasize the suddenness of Todoroki’s shift in mode, which they talk about a little later after leaving)

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I finished 香水心中!
The first time I tried reading it right after 殺人鬼 I definitely made the mistake of thinking about it like “I’ll just blitz through these two stories and finishing a book will be fun!” instead of like, “reading these two Yokomizo stories will be fun!” and due to taking too long a break between chapters and not reading carefully enough, by the point where Kindaichi’s talking to the driver about various characters and circumstances I had completely lost track of the exact details of what they were talking about.

I think the biggest thing that did me in was Miyoko being introduced with her relation to the situation not being explained, as then when I picked the book up again I remembered strongly the detailed family backstory but completely forgot that she was introduced separately to all that and so assumed she must be one of the female characters I remembered learning about and so was just confused when those ones showed up separately… :sweat_smile:
Anyway, I stopped reading and only came back to it now which was the right choice I’d say.

To keep that from happening again, this time I took very crude notes - not bothering at all to check if my name reading guesses or anything like that was correct but just as a consistent personal reference to have on hand as I went along.
Might as well share them!

香水心中 Notes

NOTE: this piece has setup spoilers incl. things that happen and details revealed midway through the story, but nothing that spoils the mystery

NOTE: this is an awful timetable that includes crucial mystery details revealed late in the story but no solution spoilers

I actually enjoyed that process! I’m sure Eight Graves probably has a very helpful wikipedia page like past novels (and like, as it turns out, 香水心中, I guess I just assumed it wouldn’t?) but I might consider just taking notes for that too since it was pretty fun and did help me visualize what happened at different points and remember names better.

It did make the ending feel especially abrupt though. I don’t really like how this one pretty much just skips right past Kindaichi deducing anything? It’s not completely out of character with other Yokomizo stuff we read, but maybe since I had relatively elaborate notes this time ready to see how it all connects, it was particularly a bummer to have it then cut directly to like, the culprit’s letterhead as he then just says what happened, with just sort of an implication that Kindaichi could/would have figured it all out, or did off screen or something.

I like a lot of the elements, like the perfume dynasty with the completely carved away gap generation, the evocativeness of the phrase “香水心中” and grisly scene, and the cute ‘remember how the story began with a long car ride? There was a corpse in the trunk!!!’ twist. Oh, and I liked that while the family members are still pretty awful in different ways, they’re surprisingly on good terms in others, like the setup makes you expect an inheritance scheme on the part of the matriarach perhaps but instead she’s (momentarily) humbled when realizing how she hurt her grandson. But the connections hanging it all together seem pretty underdeveloped, and some characters seem like they’re barely explored if at all. I wonder how Yokomizo decided which doomed families were interesting enough to run with for a full novel and which could get slotted into a relatively quick twist setup like this.

I agree the stuff from the later setting like 金田一先生 and 等々力警部 were intriguing! It’ll be interesting to see if/when he’ll turn up now being tipped off that if he does he’s definitely a recurring character.

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I also finished 百日紅の下にて!
Somehow I didn’t really register everyone hand already done that :sweat_smile:. I guess I was unconsciously stubbornly sticking to not bothering to skip around within the bookwalker copy.

Anyway yeah, the frame story is evocative, the wartime setting is interesting, and it feels cohesive and well paced… but wowee Yumi’s got the worst lot out of any of the female characters we’ve read so far doesn’t she! Which is saying something. At least Kindaichi was uncomfortable hearing about it, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded if some of the righteous revenge motivations in the story had been directed at Saeki too and been successful
Considering the point raised about why Saeki doing that to her is in the story – I suppose what it’s doing is supporting the impression that Saeki would be the kind of guy to ‘entrust’ his ‘wife’ to 4 guys he wouldn’t trust around her individually, so that they somehow ‘cancel each other out’ and keep each other in check, which is a weird and callous thing to do that went terribly. If he had normal relationships with people he did genuinely trust, or thought of his wife as anything other than an object to control and posess, that particular part of the premise might make a lot less sense. But it’s well established before by the uncomfortable parts that he doesn’t do either of those things, so it seems in-character and so the memorial service being those specific five not-fully-trustworthy guys all with drinks ends up not seeming strange.
That would be my take on it at least – I’m not sure I’ve been able to come up with any reason derived from meaning rather than just from mystery setup though… Like for what it all means… there’s something there probably about the “using poison against poison” reason he gives for the weird quartet plan and how like… one of the four did technically end up poisoning another one of the four (who was metaphorical poison)… but even if I could work that into a coherent reading I don’t think it would wrap back around to touching on Saeki’s actions before he got drafted, and since those actions are so distractingly creepy and influence the vibe of reading the story so strongly (at least in 2022, for me) it does seem to me like the story not processing them in some meaningful way is a loose end in a way.
Not the end of the world though! I did enjoy the story still, and was ultimately more disappointed by the lack of complicated family trees :sob:

I took notes again, mainly just for fun this time. It is actually pretty nice having a reference to doublecheck without having to click out to another tab and worry about catching potential spoilers. But Yokomizo’s very good about tagging characters with a flavor detail to remind you who they were later on, so it’s certainly not critical.
I think though I’m definitely gonna start taking some notes for the long historical novel I’ve been slowly reading that doesn’t have a list of characters that I’ve been able to find…

Notes why not

Of the four stories in the collection, my memory now of 殺人鬼 is it was a bit of a mess, the second one doesn’t stick out in memory on its own but the setting was interesting, 百日紅の下にて is the best structured, and I think 香水心中 was probably my favorite – but then I think I’ve made clear by now what parts of Yokomizo’s writing I’m drawn to :sweat_smile: I enjoyed reading the whole collection! But it’s a bit of an oddly assembled mixed bag.

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Finished 香水心中. Spoilers for 夜歩く and 百日紅の下にて too, I guess.

Not bad but nothing special. I agree with rodan that jumping straight to the letter was a bit jarring and it’s kind of disappointing how we just get the answer handed to us without seeing how Kindaichi solved it (or even if Kindaichi solved it), and it’s kind funny how this was read right after 夜歩く which had basically the exact same ending.

Speaking of 夜歩く, I felt the girls in there had it worse than Yumi in 百日紅の下にて, although she’s definitely up there (or down there, depending on how you look at it)

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I think what bummed me out about Yumi especially was how the details of her life that we get are just miserable, top to bottom (especially since we only hear about her through the lens of her abuser’s memories, basically). I might be experiencing a selective memory about 夜歩く though admittedly!

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I guess Yumi’s life is probably worse than any one woman’s life in 夜歩く, but it’s just one person whose life sucks and that happens to be a woman (or at least you could paint it as such), while in 夜歩く there’s a very clear trend of all the women being helpless, manipulated and/or abused and all the men being abusers.

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