The Decagon House murders

228 pages

English language

Published Jan. 4, 2015

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3 stars (6 reviews)

Students from a university mystery club decide to visit an island which was the site of a grisly multiple murder the year before. Predictably, they get picked off one by one by an unseen murderer. Is there a madman on the loose? What connection is there to the earlier murders? The answer is a bombshell revelation which few readers will see coming.

The Decagon House Murders is a milestone in the history of detective fiction. Published in 1987, it is credited with launching the shinhonkaku movement which restored Golden Age style plotting and fair-play clues to the Japanese mystery scene, which had been dominated by the social school of mystery for several decades. It is also said to have influenced the development of the wildly popular anime movement.

1 edition

Great thriller, poor whodunit

2 stars

My expectations for this book were set by the foreword, which praises it for being a sort of return to form for Japanese mystery novels where the crime is a puzzle that the reader is given every possible piece to solve. So I got more and more disappointed as I read and realised this was not the case: from hidden relationships and the motivation for the violent acts of seemingly regular characters being that they are "psychopaths", to handwavy explanations and inane planning ahead, a solvable mystery it was not. If I had picked it up expecting a thriller I would have enjoyed it much more, but as a mystery novel it left me rolling my eyes, shrugging and thinking of animes like Subete ga F ni Naru. If that's your thing, this is absolutely for you!

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rated it

3 stars
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3 stars
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4 stars
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4 stars


  • College students
  • Murder
  • Fiction