Blog Tour: The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

The Aosawa Murders
by Riku Onda, Alison Watts (Translator)

Publication date: January 16th 2020
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press (first published February 2nd 2005)
Pages: 346

It’s my stop on the “The Aosawa Murders” blog tour! Bitter Lemon Press have provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, so thank you to Anne Cater for the invite. If you’d like to learn more about this book, check out the other blogs on the tour, see what people have to say on Goodreads and head over to the author’s Twitter page.


The novel starts in the 1960s when 17 people die of cyanide poisoning at a party given by the owners of a prominent clinic in a town on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery.

The police are convinced Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the killings. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

Source: Goodreads


17 people have been killed at a birthday party, poisoned by soft drinks laced with cyanide. This tragedy has wiped out generations of the same family, leaving just two survivors: the housekeeper and a young blind girl called Hisako.

Who is responsible for this terrible crime? Makiko Saiga is here to find out.

This is a puzzle mystery and the reader is left to pull the pieces of this crime together to work out who was responsible. A bit like a Netflix true-crime documentary, this story is told through a number of interviews, letters and newspaper articles, each helping you see the story from a different point of view. This format is unique, unlike anything I’ve read before, and I really enjoyed it.

“Every person spoke in the sincere belief that what they said was the absolute truth, but if one thinks about it, it’s difficult to describe an actual event in words exactly as one sees it. More like impossible, in my opinion.”

The story was a little slow moving, but it was so twisty that I was kept engaged throughout. Sure, the story is a little complex and the interviews go off at a tangents at points, but there are so many clues that I’m sure I missed some of them and each little part of the story has something to contribute to the overall picture.

I have to say was a little confused at what was happening at first but once I understood the format of how this story was going to play out, I really enjoyed it and found the translation from Japanese to be good too. I’d recommend this book for fans of a slightly different style of mystery. Miss Marple fans maybe aren’t going to get it, but if you’re looking for a book full of culture, this is the whodunnit for you.

Overall rating: ‘The Aosawa Murders’ is a complex whodunnit story, trying to uncover the truth behind a poisoning that wiped out a whole family. This story has a unique format that I really enjoyed. I’m giving this one a big thumbs up with 4 stars.

Don’t forget to check out the reviews of other blogs on the tour and if you like what you’ve read about it, support the author by picking up a copy on Kindle or Paperback through Amazon UK or your local bookshop.

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