Lately, I’ve become fascinated with Japanese detective novels 日本推理小說. Perhaps “detective” is not the most accurate adjective as the genre covers a wide range of crime fiction. One of my first forays into this particular genre was Miyabe Miyuki’s 宮部美幸 collection of short stories under the title 寂寞獵人. This volume follows the adventures of a elderly second hand book store owner and his grandson. I found 寂寞獵人 interesting for several reasons. 1) The author seems more interested in books than in crime and most of the cases lead back to stories or specific editions of books. 2) Rather than imitating an Agatha Christie style of solving mysteries, the cases presented in this collection don’t come across as cryptic but are in many cases rather touching in that they explore human weaknesses and loneliness. 3) The most fascinating part of the collection is following the changing relationship between the book store owner and his teenage grandson. Perhaps the only negative aspect of the collection is that I found it to be a rather slow read.
Info about the author – Miyabe Miyuki is one of the most successful and prolific writers in Japan. Her fiction covers a wide range of genres from science fiction to mysteries and period novels. She has won a number of literary prizes including the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize in 1993 and the Naoki Prize in 1998.