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Inspector Imanishi Investigates (Soho Crime) Paperback – July 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The corpse of an unknown provincial is discovered under the rails of a train in a Tokyo station, and Detective Imanishi is assigned to the case. "Matsumoto is reputed to be Japan's leading mystery writer; this 1961 work is proof that he is a first-rate novelist," judged PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Native of Fukuoka Prefecture and prolific writer of socially oriented detective and mystery fiction, Matsumoto debuted as a writer after reaching the age of forty with the historically based Saigo Takamori Chits, 1950, and The Legend of the Kokura Diary, 1952. He then went on to establish his unique style of detective fiction with the works The Walls Have Eyes, 1957, and Points and Lines, 1958. Matsumoto made a name for himself as the writer of suspense novels that were accesible to all kinds of readership, but it was his historical novel The Ogura Diary Chronicles that earned him The 28th Akutagawa Prize, the Japanese equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. The popular Japanese TV show "Black Leather Notebook" was based on his novel of the same name, and several of his detective fiction works have been published in the US (SoHo Crime and Kodansha International).
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Product Details

  • Series: Soho Crime
  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime; Reprint edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569470197
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569470190
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Seicho Matsumoto is writing about Japan for Japanese readers.
Michael Valdivielso
As I read this book I could hear the cadence of the Japanese in my mind, envisage the depth of the bows and who was bowing more deeply to whom.
Michael Sharpston
I feel like I have seen a particular portrait of Japan in the decade or so after the war destroyed so much.
One Jen of Many

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on July 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Inspector Imanishi is trying to solve a murder with only one clue, the name Kameda. This story is a police procedural story that does a good job of showing us Japan in the 60s, where youth worships the new idols, such as young actors and musicians, and ancient heritage fights with political upheaval. The old and the new meet in post-war Japan, yet it is not thrust down our throats.
Seicho Matsumoto is writing about Japan for Japanese readers. He does not need to explain every single detail of culture and society. He does a great job because, frankly, it was published in 1961!
What you get is a fast flowing, showing-us-not-telling-us, novel of Japan and one character who has to swim through it to solve a crime. Once you pick it up you won't be able to put it down till you finish.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific mystery that requires a bit of patience on the reader's part. Inspector Imanishi is the quintessential salaryman for whom the traditional values of hard work and self sacrifice pay off. Mr. Matsumoto expects no less from his readers. This is a real puzzler and a terrific Japanese slice of life. It's not an easy read, but if you can let yourself be drawn in to the story, it is most rewarding.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Hans Castorp VINE VOICE on July 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a very atmospheric, slightly dense procedural, with twists and turns that go through Tokyo, the war, Osaka, several villages, and the Japanese Rail system. Not to mention a Magrait-like inspector with all his family and middle aged concerns. The cast of characters includes some 20-something nouveau artists/ musicians, a wise elderly abacas maker, and a victim, at first unknown, but who is described as saint-like by all who knew him. Not to mention a look at Japanese society, one so polite that everyone says "Welcome", even to the police; where it is normal to bow, and where please and thank you are seemingly obligatory. Interestingly, almost no one looses his temper, and even arrests are made as discretely and politely as possible. A very fine and different police tale!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Sharpston on July 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Seicho Matsumoto is apparently extremely well known in Japan, but was unknown to me. The book draws one in slowly, but it becomes worthwhile. In some ways the hero is a Japanese Maigret, but lower in the hierarchy of a then VERY hierarchical society. A psychological detective story, with complex clues and twists like a Sherlock Holmes (but Imanishi gets there by stolid persistence, not drug-fuelled brilliance).

Also a wonderful visit to Japan of the early Sixties, when poverty was still recent, when rural houses were still thatched. When the country was not yet in thrall to Gucci (an incredible percentage of Tokyoites now own at least one Luis Vuitton item..) The translator has for me done a wonderful job of conveying the nature of the original Japanese: I have not read that for this book, but I do know the importance of honorifics, level of formality, depth of bows. Yes in places it can sound a bit stilted to us, but then these people are not, like, Valley Girls and "awesome". As I read this book I could hear the cadence of the Japanese in my mind, envisage the depth of the bows and who was bowing more deeply to whom. Indirectly the book gives a magnificent picture of traditional Japan, its strengths and weaknesses. Although even then there was the love of clever gadgets... I had difficulty getting going, but then I could not put it down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the first Matsumoto Seicho book I have read, and the third in the Soho Crime series that brings classics of Japanese crime fiction to a Western audience. I have been deeply impressed by the series, and consider it a hallmark for great writing and quality translations, and I know I can pick up any book in the series and be able to settle down for a good read.

"Inspector Imanishi Investigates" (original title "Suna no Utsuwa" or "Castles of Sand") is one of the most famous of Matsumoto's works, having been adapted twice, once as a feature film and once as a TV mini-series. First published in 1961, it was one of his "social mysteries" that deal with social issues in Japan at the time as opposed to simple murder puzzles. In this book we have the gender gap that followed the Japanese defeat in WWII, the loss of older ways and the rise of a new generation with new methods of committing crimes. Will the old-fashioned ways of solving them still work?

The story begins with a basic crime scene; a dead body is discovered, and clues are scant. Inspector Imanishi and his younger partner Yoshimura follow what lose trails they have, which is limited to an accent from a certain part of Japan and a single word "kameda". The hunt leads them through a long path, taking months as they sort through regional accents, dusty family records, movie posters and any other thin straws they can desperately grasp to. Somehow interlinked is a group of avant-garde young Japanese intellectuals who call themselves the Nouveau, and seek to subvert the social order into something new and unique, using art, writing, music and theater. They are the black suit and beret set, completely at odds with Imanishi's old-fashioned and simple life.
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