I am sure that『殺意という名の家畜』is a great story if you like hardboiled novels, but as someone who does not enjoy this genre, I fand it hard to feel interested in the characters’ fate, and I was not invested in the case. Characteristics of the genre like action, fast pace and fast dialogues are also not what I prefer reading when it comes to crime fiction.
What bothered me the most is that we don’t really understand why our protagonist, who is a writer, starts investigating the disappearance of a woman he only met once in his life. I wish that the novel had given us some reason to be interested in the case and the missing person. As it stands, we barely know the missing woman, she is just a name and remains so for most of the novel.
We dig into people’s past, but we don’t really know them, the novel does not gives us an opportunity to care about the different characters involved in the case. The investigation was fast paced and not bad, but if I don’t care about the characters, I generally find it hard to care for the investigation.
I also did not like how the novel was narrated. Often, we would start a new chapter with our protagonist going somewhere and giving a description of the place first. The explanation as to why he is there and what we are looking for would only come after the action has started. Obviously, it is possible to guess beforehand if you are an attentive reader, but I just don’t really like this style of narrative. I wish there were more reflexions from the protagonist between different parts and actions where he would reflect on the information we have obtained and decide the next course of action, instead of just doing it with the reader following as an outside spectator. But I guess that jumping from scene to scene without long reflective developments in between is part of the genre.
Finally, I did not like the protagonist, but this is generally true of hardboiled protagonists in general, so I was not surprised.
I have enjoyed reading other winners of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award that were labelled hardboiled (背いて故郷 in particular, but also カディスの赤い星), but 殺意という名の家畜 did not work for me.