Bin Konno’s novel『継続捜査ゼミ』was first published by Kodansha in 2016. The pocket edition I have read was released in 2018.
『継続捜査ゼミ』 is the first book of the series 継続捜査ゼミ and the second volume, 『エムエス 継続捜査ゼミ2 』was published at the end of 2018.
See the publisher’s page of the novel for a presentation of the book and the characters.
Ichiro Kobayakawa has retired from the police and is now a professor at a women’s university. Kobayakawa is in charge of a seminar called 刑事政策演習ぜみ or more casually 継続捜査ゼミ. Five students are in the seminar. Together, they will study an unsolved murder case that occurred 15 years ago.
Mysteries also happen on the campus and our little group will investigate.
A lot of dialogues
The feature that sets this book apart is its structure: the book is almost entirely composed of dialogues. It makes it easy to read and it is one of the reasons why I have read it so quickly (it took me less than a week).
Despite the lack of descriptions and narrative passages, you get to know the characters well and have a good picture of each student’s personality through their dialogues. The way they talk, what they say and how they react tell a lot about them. Telling a story almost only through dialogues feels very refreshing to me, and I thought it was brilliantly done.
What I love the most in detective stories is the moment when the characters sit down and discuss the case. Well, 『継続捜査ゼミ』 is almost entirely composed of people who sit down to discuss the case. If you are looking for action, investigation and clues, you will be disappointed with this book. On the contrary, if the idea of sitting down at a seminar table and discuss an old murder case with a retired detective is appealing to you, then you must read this book!
Relatively easy to read
I found this book relatively easy to read for a Japanese learner. The beginning is a little challenging because they discuss the 公訴時効 (statute of limitations – thanks Kazen for the translation!). At this stage, difficult vocabulary appears, but it is just the beginning. The rest of the novel is much easier to read, mainly because it is based on dialogues.
I loved this novel, it was easy to read, and it felt refreshing to read a detective novel where discussions are the core of the investigation. I also liked the characters. In the end, I felt like I knew them well and was myself a participant to the seminar. I will definitely read the second volume of the series. I am just waiting for a pocket release!