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Seicho Matsumoto Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Points & Lines (1957)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Inspector Imanishi Investigates (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Pro Bono (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Quiet Place (1971)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

The Voice and Other Stories (1964)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

About Seichō Matsumoto
The respected Japanese author Seichō Matsumoto was a highly prolific and equally prestigious writer during his lifetime. His real name was Kiyoharu Matsumoto, although he’d go under the name of Seichō for the majority of his literary career, and this is what people would know him by. Seichō was the Sino-Japanese reading of the character in his real name, and it was from this that he’d establish himself as a writer. Reaching readers from around the world, the impact of his legacy is still felt to this day, as he’d resonates with audiences regardless of their background.

The impact of words continues to reach readers from all over, as he was a writer with something important to say through his work. This can be seen in the way readers have reacted to him, allowing his work to become extremely influential the world over. He largely wrote mystery and detective fiction, as many of his novels went on to become classics of the genre in their own right. Changing the way people thought about the form, he was groundbreaking in his approach to both style and structure.

Often working with the famous Japanese film director Yoshitaro Nomura, eight of his novels were adapted for the cinema. This would also see him becoming a hugely influential name, as his adaptations were also equally revered by many. Largely writing stand-alone titles, his work would take on a dark and gritty feel, exploring subject matter that wasn’t typically looked at by detective fiction. With readers continuing to explore his many novels, as more and more discover his work every day, his legacy will carry on for a long time yet.

Early and Personal Life
Born in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1909 on the 21st of December, the author to be Kiyoharu Matsumoto would grow up in the city of Kokura. An only child he graduated from elementary school before going on to work at a utility company, followed by working for the ‘Asahi Shimbun’ Japanese newspaper designing layouts. After this he would go on to work in advertising, before serving in the Second World War as a medical corpsman, spending much of his time in Korea.
For much of his life he was self-educated, attending neither secondary school or university, extensively reading and learning for himself. He would not see his first book published until he was in his mid-forties, followed by a long creative period, whereby he would release a lot of work. Passing away in 1992 on the 4th of August, the impact of his work is still felt today, as the themes and ideas still continue to resonate with readers worldwide.

Writing Career
The first book that he’d publish was ‘Ten to Sen’ in 1957, and it would be translated in 1970 for an English speaking audience. This would also get made into a film in 1958 marking the first in a number of cinematic adaptations of his novels, as he’d go on to work with the director Yoshitaro Nomura. He’d also produced a number of short-story collections too, along with plenty of non-fiction historical titles as well.

Most notably he would collaborate with Nomura on the 1974 police-procedural film ‘Castle of Sand,’ which itself would be regarded as a Japanese cinematic masterpiece. Winning many awards over his career, from the Akutagawa Prize for his first short-story in 1953, to the Asahi Prize in 1990, he was critically acclaimed too. Many of his books would reflect the changing shape and culture of Japanese society, and it is through this he’s remembered, with the Matsumoto Seicho Memorial Museum standing in Kitakyushu to this very day.

Points and Lines
Originally coming out in 1957, this was first called ‘Ten to Sen’ in Japan, and would be the debut release from Seichō Matsumoto. Translated by Makiko Yamamoto and Paul C. Blum, this has become a turning point in Japanese detective and mystery fiction. It was also made into a 1958 film, which was directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi, working as a stand-alone title not being a part of any series.

This is an entertaining novel that still stands up, even if the genre has gotten darker and more gritty as a whole in recent years. Showing the early stages of the genre’s development in Japan, it’s a fascinating insight into its roots and how its evolved. Not only that, but it also shows the development of the author, along with providing a snapshot of Japanese society at the time.

There’s a dining car receipt, a senior official positioned in the ministry marred by scandal, a passenger list with a name missing, and a young woman and man dead upon a beach. It appears to be a case of suicide, and it’s up to detective Kiichi Mihara to solve the case and find all the missing pieces. Connecting the dots he must find what really happened, all while navigating the rigmarole of Japanese society at the time. Will he be able to find the truth behind it all? How is it all interconnected? What connects all of the points and lines?

A Quiet Place
First published through the ‘Bitter Lemon Press’ publishing label, this would originally come out in June 1971, but was later published in English in 2016 on the 16th of August. Translated by Louise Heal Kawai, it would be an almost meditative character study as much as it was a piece of mystery fiction. Again not a part of any overall series, it was a stand-alone title about people and how they are, making for an in-depth and intelligent story.

During a Kobe business trip, government bureaucrat Tsuneo Asai is informed that his wife Eiko has died from a heart condition. While she always had a condition, she was discovered in shady Tokyo neighbourhood in a small shop, which leads to many questions given that she was so reserved. Meeting the shop owner to deal with what happened, he realizes that there’s Tachibana, a villa nearby where lovers secretly meet. Can he discover the truth behind it all? Why was his wife in the shop? What was she really doing there in a quiet place?

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