Book review: 『あした天気にしておくれ』by Futari Okajima

Title: あした天気にしておくれ(あしたてんきにしておくれ)
First published: 1983
Page Count: 374
Seshia is not an ordinary racehorse, the pride and joy of his four owners, his exceptional pedigree makes his value reach an amount of money seldom heard of. When he is transferred to the ranch of Kuramine, one of the owners, an accident happens and Seshia breaks his leg. Asakura, who works for Kuramine, designs a plan to conceal the accident, but as the plan unfolds, things that should not be happening keeps happening…

Even though 『あした天気にしておくれ』was published in 1983, it was the runner-up for the Edogawa Rampo Prize in 1981, making it the debut novel of the authors. According to the committee in charge of the selection, the reason why this novel did not win the prize was because the trick had been used previously and the execution did not seem possible. I personally find that this novel would have deserved to win the prize, and the reasons given seem a bit unfair.

This is the second book I read by Futari Okajima, and it was as good as, if not better than, the other one, 『チョコレートゲーム』which won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award. Set in the world of horse racing, it is a captivating mystery and a real page turner.

I am not particularly interested in horse racing, but the authors made a great job at introducing people like me who don’t know much about racehorses in general. The career of a racehorse, the ranches, the races, the bet system, the ownership and money… all these aspects are at the core of the novel and very well explained, even though I must say that some details related to betting were still a bit difficult for me to understand, but this certainly comes from reading in Japanese (and being bad with numbers…).

The only thing that I would maybe point as a downside is that I found one key element of the mystery easy to foresee early on in the novel. This did not prevent me from enjoying the story, and there were still some twists at the end that I had not foreseen.

Overall, I really love mystery novels told form the point of view of the culprit. The pattern is classic as our group has to face the police investigation, but also deal with strange occurrences that become more and more worrying. This tension is particularly well exploited in this novel, and it makes for an engrossing read from start to finish.

Other books by this author:
Cover of チョコレートゲーム. The focus of the cover image is a small desk and two chairs facing the desk, typically the kind that are used in classrooms. On the table there is some kind of board game involving chocolate bars. There are also bank notes and chocolate around it.
解決まではあと6人 (かいけつまではあとろくにん)
99%の誘拐 (きゅうじゅうきゅうぱーせんとのゆうかい)
焦茶色のパステル (こげちゃいろのぱすてる)
Cover of 七年目の脅迫状. Illustration: a brown horse is grazing on a green background.