Looking for crime/mystery novel recommendations

I’m still very much a beginner, but having (almost) finished my first novel in Japanese, I’m eager to keep reading. There’s many good choices of course, but since I’ll be reading outside of a book club this time, I’d like this first “independent” novel to be a page turner, something that will keep me reading even if I find it fairly difficult, because I’ll desperately want to know what happens next. Relatively short length and relatively simpler language would be nice but not necessary, as long as the plot is compelling enough. What have you all read and liked in this genre?


Sorry I don’t have any recommendations, but I’m marking this thread as watched to hopefully (one day) piggy back off the suggestions you get =D

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There’s a few the advanced book club have read that look cool - I’m thinking of 容疑者Xの献身 and すべてがFになる. Having prior discussions to consult might help offset the “advanced” part. There’s also a mystery/crime novel nominated for the intermediate club (although it looks like it’ll be dropped before it wins a nomination poll at this rate…)

For ones I’ve personally read, I’ve really enjoyed the works of Edogawa Ranpo (江戸川乱歩) and Seishi Yokomizo (横溝正史) - their detectives, Kogoro Akechi (明智小五郎) and Kosuke Kindaichi (金田一耕助) respectively are about as 名 as 名探偵 get. I would definitely not describe the language as simpler though… especially for Yokomizo. Ranpo’s short stories (or boy detective stories) might be a good option, since the ones I’ve read are definitely page turners, but you’d still likely have to deal with some old-fashioned kanji usage. His work is comparable to Edgar Allan Poe (hence the name), and I think I read The Human Chair and other stories shortly after finishing my first novel and it was slow to read but I was very gripped.

There’s a lot of Japanese mystery novels though… for some other ideas here’s a wikipedia page and here’s an ebook site’s reader poll about their users’ 100 favorite mystery novels (I tried googling ”推理小説 おすすめ” which can find useful lists), I notice ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 in there, which I’ve heard someone mention and want to read - might be lighter, book-themed mysteries? And I also notice on that list かがみの孤城, which there’s a book club of starting soon. I have no idea how crime-ish it is since the cover seems more fantasy, but apparently it’s enough of a ミステリー小説 for booklive, and the language is apparently easy and I’ve heard very good things about it.

Lastly - I know you’re looking for novels, but if you haven’t already, give 名探偵コナン / Case Closed a shot! I haven’t read any yet in Japanese, but I read a big chunk in English and found them to be a totally reliable parade of fun mysteries and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It also has a bio of a famous fictional detective at the end of each volume, so you can source authors to check out that way…

Anyway, hope there’s some possible ideas in there at least! Good luck!


I’m not well-versed in Japanese literature, classic or modern, but as a huge mystery novel reader I have a maybe-suggestion–Agatha Christie is the most translated author of all time, her works were quite popular in Japan, so you could always grab a Japanese edition of one of her old works (which, if you haven’t read, are always a good time).


To slightly derail the question: Anybody know any juvenile detective/adventure stories? Stuff like Hardy Boys, some of the many Enid Blyton series, The Three Investigators, etc. That might not be quite as thrilling as Agatha Christie, but maybe a bit easier to read than Agatha Christie or old-fashioned kanji usage haha.

I think the most direct comparison to those would be Ranpo’s Boy Detective Club series . I haven’t read any yet, but @FirstMate-san mentioned them recently.


Also, at the end of each volume, the mangaka has a profile of a fiction detective. A lot are from non-Japanese writers, but there’s also a good amount of Japanese writers included. Here’s a fairly complete list:



I was about to mention these as well! To be fair, the “advanced” part was mainly about the schedule being 40-50 pages per week, but I found the language to be very accessible, and they are quite gripping. (The former is by 東野圭吾 and you can find a bit of a fan discussion in the autumn challenge thread.) The latter is by 森博嗣 and as a small warning there’s lots of computer stuff talk in it (from 25 years ago :exploding_head:) so that might be a bit hard to digest, depending on your general interests. Also they are big bois of 400 and 500 pages each, so you’d be in for a long ride.

My Intermediate Book Club nomination ifの悲劇 (which rodan linked above) is much shorter, but I have not read it yet so cannot comment.

Something else I always wanted to read but never got around to is the Zenigata Heiji story collection, but it’s quite old so I don’t know how hard it is. The stories are about 30 pages each and are available for free (also on Bookwalker) so it’s not too costly to try out, at least.

Generally speaking, in order to find something of a specific genre, I like to look at the prizes that are awarded for that genre (Japan has a ton of those). Even if you don’t like the specific books, you will get a list of interesting authors which you can explore further.

These two look as if they are spot on:


That I have :wink: . @ochamame don’t touch the first book 怪人二十面相 unless you somehow manage to get your hands on a reprint for adults with the right amount of kanji :stuck_out_tongue: . The rest of the books look way better. I started reading 赤いカブトムシ until I switched gears to the current 小川未明 thread on the forums.

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Does that mean that book has no/few kanji or a lot? xD (either way, reading all-kana texts is difficult, so great practice. and reading kanji is also difficult, so also great practice lol)

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The book has close to no kanji and halfway through it (chapter 4 out of 6?) decides to remove some of the ones it’s been using before. Also, you will get kana mixed with kanji in people’s names.

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sounds… like an advanced challenge then haha

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I actually just realized there are 2 “editions” of the story on Aozora Bunko:

The second one has even less kanji T.T.

Here are all Ranpo’s works on Aozora: 作家別作品リスト:江戸川 乱歩


Thank you all for the great suggestions! Keep them coming!

They both sound very interesting, I’m putting them on my list. They might not be ideal as a first book though if there’s old-fashioned language involved. There’s some old-fashioned language in Ogawa Mimei’s stories that we’re currently reading in the Beginner’s club, and even though it’s not a huge problem by any means, it is sometimes frustrating to not be able to find a word in the dictionary - and if I’m reading alone, I won’t have a club’s backup. I’m definitely keeping them in mind for later though. Same for Case Closed - I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but I really want the big blocks of text a novel offers right now.

I’ve looked at it, and while there must be some mystery involved, it seems to be basically fantasy as you say. At least I think so.

Not a bad idea at all, but on the other hand, I’m sure there are so many Japanese writers for me to discover - and I always prefer to read untranslated if I can. Part of the fun of learning new languages :slight_smile:

I’ve already read Suspect X in English unfortunately. I might give すべてがFになる a try - computer stuff of 25 years ago is not foreign to me, but it would be in Japanese I bet. As for ifの悲劇, I did vote for it, so it was on my radar. I’d better not read it now in case it does better next time, I suppose.

Thanks both @NicoleRauch and @rodan for the book lists. I’ll be sure to go through them. It’s not easy to choose straight from lists like that, but it’s certainly a good starting point.


I did a kanji analysis on these recently, and found a total of 3,093 unique kanji used. This includes 1,321 kanji not covered by WaniKani!

(And roughly 32,000 unique words, but that number’s far less precise.)


:scream: Not unique, surely? Oh, unique, you said. :flushed:


Big question being, are there versions with furigana for the less common kanji? Also, are those unusual words, or just unusual/outdated kanji being used for common words?


Additional question: how many of them are uses in names rather than vocabulary words?

Non-WK Ranpo Kanji list

丑 乍 乎 乞 云 亘 亙 些 亢 亥 亦 什 仇 仔 伍 伽 佇 佝 佞 來 侠 侯 侶 俄 俘 俟 俤 俥 俯 倅 倆 倖 倣 倦 倭 倶 假 做 傀 傭 傳 傴 僂 僅 僥 價 儒 儘 儡 儲 兇 兎 兒 兜 兢 兩 其 冑 冤 冥 冴 冶 几 凪 凭 凱 函 凾 刄 刳 刹 剃 剔 剥 剽 劃 劈 劔 劫 勃 勺 勾 勿 匁 匆 匍 匐 匙 匡 匣 卉 卍 卜 卦 卯 卿 厘 厩 厨 厭 叉 叛 叢 只 叭 叮 叶 吃 吊 吋 吏 吝 吠 吩 吻 呀 呎 呑 呟 呵 呶 呷 呻 咀 咄 咆 咎 咐 咤 咫 咬 咳 咽 哄 哨 哩 哮 唖 唸 唾 啄 啖 啜 啣 啼 喇 喊 喘 喙 喩 喰 嗄 嗅 嗚 嗜 嗟 嗤 嗾 嘔 嘗 嘯 嘲 嘴 噛 噤 噪 噫 噸 噺 嚀 嚇 嚢 嚥 嚮 嚼 囁 囂 囃 囮 國 圍 圓 團 坐 坦 坩 垢 埃 埒 堊 堙 堝 堡 堵 塑 塒 塞 填 塵 壕 壜 壯 壺 夥 夾 套 奠 奢 奸 妓 妬 妲 妾 姐 姑 姦 娑 娩 娶 娼 婉 婪 媚 媼 媾 嫂 嫉 嫣 嬌 嬪 嬬 嬰 孰 學 宋 宏 宵 寃 寅 寇 寐 寓 實 寵 對 尖 尤 尨 屍 屏 屑 屓 屠 屡 屹 崕 嵌 嵩 嶮 嶺 巌 巖 已 巳 巴 巷 巽 帖 帛 帷 幇 幌 幔 幟 幡 庇 庖 庵 廂 廓 廣 廻 廼 弄 弋 弗 弘 弛 彎 彗 彙 彦 彬 彭 彳 彷 徊 徘 從 徨 徽 忽 忿 怙 怨 怯 恍 恢 恬 恰 悄 悉 悍 悚 悴 悶 悸 悽 惚 惟 惣 惧 惱 惶 惹 惻 愁 愈 愍 愕 愾 慄 慇 慊 慘 慙 慚 慧 慳 慾 憐 憑 憔 憚 憫 憬 憮 憺 應 懊 懣 懺 懼 戌 或 戚 戟 截 戮 戰 扁 托 扨 扮 扼 抉 抓 抛 抬 拇 拔 拗 拭 拮 拱 拵 按 挫 挺 挽 捏 捗 捧 捩 捲 捷 捺 捻 掏 掟 掠 掴 掻 揃 揄 揉 揖 揶 搏 搦 摯 摸 摺 撒 撓 撞 撥 撫 播 撰 撼 擂 擡 擯 擲 擽 擾 攀 攣 攪 攫 斃 斑 斟 斥 斧 斯 於 旁 旭 昂 昏 昧 昵 晒 晦 曽 晰 暈 暢 暹 曖 曝 曰 曳 曾 朋 朔 朦 朧 杆 李 杖 杜 杞 杣 杭 杳 柑 柘 柵 柾 栗 桁 桂 框 桐 桝 桶 梁 梃 梗 梟 梠 梢 梯 梱 梶 棊 棍 棕 棠 棲 棹 棺 椀 椰 椿 楊 楔 楕 楚 楠 楯 楼 榎 榴 槃 槌 槍 槐 槓 樋 樟 樣 樵 樸 樽 橘 橙 橢 檀 檎 檜 檻 櫂 櫃 櫓 櫚 櫛 欝 欣 歎 此 歪 歸 歿 殆 殘 殷 毀 毫 毬 毯 氈 氣 汐 汲 沐 沓 沫 泄 泛 洒 洟 洩 洲 洵 浚 浩 涅 涎 涸 淆 淋 淫 淳 淵 游 渾 湘 湛 湮 溌 溜 溢 溷 溺 滔 滲 滸 滾 滿 漕 漲 漾 漿 澱 澹 濛 濠 濤 濫 濶 瀑 瀕 瀝 瀟 灌 灘 炸 烙 焉 焔 焚 煉 煎 煤 煽 熄 熨 熾 燈 燐 燕 燗 燦 燭 燼 爛 爬 爭 爲 爵 爺 爼 爾 牌 牒 牝 牡 牢 犀 犒 狄 狗 狡 狸 狼 狽 猜 猪 猥 猩 猾 獅 獨 獰 玩 玻 珀 珞 琥 琺 瑕 瑣 瑯 瑰 瓔 瓢 瓣 瓦 甍 甕 甞 甥 甦 甫 甸 畏 畢 畦 當 畸 疵 疸 疹 疽 痒 痕 痙 痣 痺 痼 瘁 瘋 瘧 瘤 癇 癈 癩 癪 癲 癸 發 皎 皷 皺 盃 盥 盪 眩 眷 睥 睨 睫 瞑 瞞 瞠 瞥 瞰 瞼 砥 硝 硯 碇 碌 碍 碗 碧 磊 磐 磔 磯 礙 祇 祟 祠 祷 禄 禦 禰 禿 秤 稀 稍 稜 稟 稱 稽 穉 穢 穽 穿 窖 窟 窩 窪 窶 窺 竈 竝 竦 竪 竿 笥 笄 筈 筍 箆 箇 箋 箒 箔 箝 箪 箭 箴 篇 篏 篠 簑 簀 簔 簾 籃 籖 籐 籔 籠 籤 粂 粟 粥 粹 糊 糜 糞 糟 糠 糺 紐 紗 紬 紲 絃 絆 絖 絢 絣 絨 絲 絽 綜 綮 綴 綻 緘 緞 緬 緻 縅 縊 縋 縞 縡 縲 縷 縹 繃 繍 繕 繙 繞 繋 繩 繻 纂 纏 纒 罐 罠 罩 罵 罹 羞 羹 翁 翅 翠 翡 翰 翳 耀 耄 而 耶 耽 聊 聯 聰 聳 聾 肆 肋 肘 股 肢 肱 肴 胚 胛 胤 脉 胱 脛 脣 脹 腋 腎 腑 腔 腥 腦 腫 腺 腿 膀 膊 膏 膠 膩 膳 膿 臀 臂 臆 臙 臥 臼 舅 舊 舐 舳 舵 舷 艘 艫 艱 艶 芙 芥 芦 芭 芻 苑 苔 苛 苟 茄 茫 茲 茸 荊 荻 莖 莫 菩 菫 菰 菱 萃 萄 萎 萠 萩 葛 葡 董 葦 葺 蒐 蒔 蒟 蒡 蒲 蒻 蓆 蓉 蓋 蓑 蓬 蔦 蔭 蔽 蕈 蕉 蕎 蕗 蕩 薇 薔 薙 薤 薪 薫 薩 藁 藉 藝 藪 藺 蘆 蘇 蘭 虔 虞 號 虱 虻 蚓 蚕 蚤 蚯 蛆 蛔 蛙 蛛 蛤 蛭 蛾 蜃 蜑 蜘 蜥 蜴 蝉 蝋 蝎 蝕 蝙 蝠 蝦 蝸 螢 螺 蟇 蟒 蟠 蟲 蟻 蠅 蠕 蠢 蠱 衒 衷 袂 袈 袢 袱 袴 袷 裟 裡 裳 裾 褄 褐 褥 褪 褻 襖 襞 襦 襴 襷 覗 觀 觸 訃 訊 訛 訝 訣 訥 訶 註 詈 詣 詫 詮 誂 誦 誨 誼 諄 諌 諧 諳 謁 謂 謄 謔 謗 謨 謳 譚 譫 讀 讃 讎 讐 讒 讖 谺 谿 豈 豫 豬 豹 貌 貪 貰 賎 賑 賜 贋 贓 贔 贖 赧 赫 趺 跋 跏 跛 跣 跨 跪 跫 踉 踝 踞 踪 踵 蹄 蹌 蹟 蹲 躁 躄 躇 躊 躓 躙 躬 躯 躱 躾 軈 軋 輛 輯 輻 輿 轍 轟 轡 轢 辜 辟 辮 辰 辷 辻 辿 迂 迄 迚 迦 迸 逅 逐 逗 這 逞 逡 逢 遁 遏 遙 遡 遵 遽 邂 邃 邏 邯 鄙 鄭 鄲 酉 酊 酋 酣 酩 醇 醒 醗 采 釘 釜 釦 鈎 鈞 鉋 鉞 鉤 鉦 銚 銜 鋏 鋒 鋩 鋪 鋲 鋸 錆 錐 錘 錣 錫 錺 錨 鍍 鍔 鍬 鍮 鍾 鎗 鎧 鏖 鑢 鑵 鑿 閂 閃 閊 閏 閨 閻 闊 闌 闖 關 陀 附 隈 隧 隨 雀 雁 雖 雛 雜 雫 雹 霞 霰 霽 靄 靈 靨 靭 靱 鞄 鞋 鞘 鞠 鞣 鞦 鞭 韆 竟 韻 頁 頓 頬 頷 頸 頽 顆 顎 顛 顫 顱 飄 飜 餅 餉 餌 餐 餞 饅 饒 饗 馮 馳 馴 駁 駈 駕 騙 驀 驟 驢 驥 骸 骼 髏 髑 體 髭 髯 髷 鬘 鬚 鬢 鬣 鬨 鬪 鬮 魁 魄 魍 魎 魑 鮎 鮑 鮒 鮟 鮪 鮫 鯛 鯰 鰭 鰹 鰻 鱇 鱈 鱗 鳶 鴎 鴨 鵄 鵜 鵞 鶯 鷲 鷹 鹸 鹽 麓 麹 麿 黐 點 黯 黴 鼈 鼎 鼕 鼠 鼬 鼾 齋 齎 齟 齣 齬


In my experience with print versions, there’s plenty of furigana over the (numerous) unusual or complex words.
There’s also plenty of unusual/outdated kanji for common words, yes (and things that seem old-fashioned like omitting the middle okurigana in compound verbs e.g. 切抜ける instead of 切り抜ける)
It takes some getting used to, but it’s manageable.
It’s the kind of thing where you’re gonna get used to kanji for common words like 迄, 其れ, etc.
Looking at the first aozora page of 人間椅子 I see no differences from the print version in terms of furigana.

Yokomizo is even more intense though - stacks and stacks of 屏風s and 本陣 and 漁村 politics and complicated noble family trees. He’s the kind of mystery writer who begrudgingly provides you with a diagram summary of all the details he’s working through. Again though, manageable with a dictionary, just a looooot of stuff going into my anki deck…


Very nice! Big thanks! :slight_smile:

Yeah, WaniKani is just the tip of the iceberg :joy:

Usually there should be, I think. Also, for less or maybe slightly non-obvious readings. I had a quick look at 少年探偵団 (the book, not the series) and it doesn’t look too bad, but you get furigana only for some words.