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Seishi Yokomizo Books In Order

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Publication Order of Detective Kosuke Kindaichi Books

The Honjin Murders (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death on Gokumon Island (1948)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Village of Eight Graves (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Inugami Curse (1972)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Devil’s Flute Murders (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Seishi Yokomizo is a bestselling mystery and thriller novelist from Japan that was hugely popular during the Showa period.

He was born in Kobe, Hyogo and during his childhood, he loved reading detective fiction. He published his first story in “Shin Seinen,” a popular magazine in 1921 while he was then working for Daiichi Bank.
After getting his pharmacy degree from Osaka University’s Osaka Pharmaceutical College, he initially planned on taking over the family business.

For several generations, his family had been running a successful drug store even though Japan had a skeptical attitude towards drugs.

However, since he was interested in literature and was encouraged by Edogawa Ramapo, he headed to Tokyo where in 1926 he began working for the “Hakubunkan Publishing” company.

After a few years, he rose up the ranks to become editor-in-chief of several magazines in Tokyo. In 1932, he resigned from his job as he wanted to pursue a full-time career as an author.

Yokomizo was particularly attracted to historical fiction and particularly historical detective fiction. In July 1934, he completed his debut work “Onibi” while recuperating from tuberculosis in the Nagano Mountains.

While Seishi Yokomizo experienced some difficulties at first including censorship, he soldiered on, and soon enough, he had several more bestselling titles.

During the days of the Second World War, he had some hardship getting published and hence fell on hard economic times. The lack of antibiotic drugs including Streptomycin meant his tuberculosis went untreated for months on end.
In fact, he used to joke that he was in a race to see if he would die of starvation or disease. Luckily, the war came to an end and he developed an enormous following as his works became very popular.

He published several of his works in serials format in “Shonen Magazine,” a weekly paper. During this time he concentrated on popular mystery formats borrowing from conventional western detective mystery formats starting with The Honjin Murders.
His writings would become the model for modern Japanese writing of detective fiction as he would often be referred to as the Japanese John Dickson Carr.

Over the years, he has become known for creating detective Kosuke Kindaichi, his most popular character. Several of his works have also been adapted into film.
Yokomizo died in 1981 and was laid to rest at the Kawasaki, Kanagawa Seishun-en cemetery.

As for how Seishi Yokomizo came to write golden age crime fiction, he has said that he got the inspiration from the likes of Japanese author Akutagawa.

Nonetheless, a shortage of paper among other restrictions during the Second World War made it hard for him to pen his bestselling romances until well after 1945.

As such, it was only after World War II during the occupation of Japan by the Americans that Yokomizo made the decision to consciously write in serial Golden Age style.
He used to pen most of his works in literary magazines before they were published and often made his novels in modern or near-modern settings.

For Japanese readers, Seishi Yokomizo came into the public consciousness of Golden Age authors that they loved to read and enjoy during the post-war years when things were very tough.
However, since there were hardly any English translations his work would remain pretty much unknown outside his home country for decades.

“The Honjin Murders” by Seishi Yokomizo is the first story in which we are introduced to detective Kosuke Kindaichi. In 1937, Kenzo the eldest son of the Ichiyanagi family is getting married at the family mansion.
Meanwhile, a strange vagabond with some missing fingers has been spotted in the nearby village. Many members of the family attend the wedding that ends with the locals celebrating the newlyweds.

Later in the night, a combination of screams and sounds of the koto ceremony are heard in the mansion. People rush to the outside annex where the couple is being housed.

It turns out that the house is locked from the inside and they will have to break in. Upon bursting into the house, they discover the couple has been horrifically killed.
Outside, they locate the katana that had been used to murder the couple on a coat of snow in the middle of the garden but surprisingly no footprints.

It makes for a perfect locked room mystery that could only be resolved by detective Kosuke Kindaichi.

Seishi Yokomizo’s novel “The Inugami Curse” is the story of Sahei Inugami.

He is a man that has led a very complex life after coming from rags to riches, three mistresses, a few secret relationships, three children and grandchildren, and an explosive testament and last will that is sure to rock things once he dies.
When he finally dies, the Inugami clan is shocked at what he had decreed. First, he had instructed his lawyer, not to read his testament until Kiyo his youngest grandson came back from the war, or one year after his death whichever came first.
Thankfully, Kiyo arrives after a few weeks and the family has another shocker as the entire estate now belongs to the granddaughter of Daini Nomoiya, who was Sahei’s mentor.

But Tamayo can only inherit if she married one of Shei’s three grandsons as a husband. The will then goes on to list all manner of contingencies in case of the death of Tamayo, including provisions for murder and family infighting.
Nobody expected murder to happen but suddenly the heirs start dying and it is up to the local police and Kindaich to try to find the man that just cannot stop killing.

Could it be a dark plan of revenge or could the killer simply be motivated by greed?

“The Village of Eight Graves” by Seishi Yokomizo is a story that opens with a rather horrifying and cruel legend that provides the name for the fictional village in which it is set.

Several years back, the murder and betrayal of eight samurai by the villagers for some precious metals they were rumored to be carrying had resulted in a curse over the entire village.
Fast forward to about a quarter of a century before the present and the village has to deal with another murderous spree that kills many and was attributed to the very same curse.
In the present, we are introduced to Tatsuya, a twenty-eight-year-old who discovers that his father had been responsible for all those deaths.

He had been raised by a stepfather but now his real father’s family had been seeking him out, as he is the only heir to the family estate as his only remaining brother is about to die.
His grandfather had come looking for him but before he can leave for the village of Eight Graves his grandpa unexpectedly dies, poisoned. He suspects something fishy but is determined to go home and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Seishi Yokomizo

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