Book review: 『ひげのある男たち』by Shoji Yuki

ひげのある男たち (ひげのあるおとこたち)
Title: ひげのある男たち (ひげのあるおとこたち)
First published: 1959
Format: Digital
Series Number: 1
Page Count: 302
The young and beautiful Eiko Mizusawa is found dead in her apartment. Everything points towards suicide but sergeant Gohara is not convinced. Among the other occupants of the house, some definitely look suspicious, and it doesn’t help that several suspects and persons relative to the case all wear the same style of moustache…

It’s hard to believe that 『ひげのある男たち』is the author’s debut novel. I hesitated before buying it because it has overall mixed reviews, but I really loved it, and it belongs now to my favourite detective novels. 

First of all, the investigation follows a very classic pattern with the discovery of the body, the police questioning witnesses and narrowing the scope of suspects, offering a very good whodunnit. This is what I enjoy reading the most when it comes to detective fiction, but what I found really good in this novel is that the investigation relies mainly on deduction rather than late discoveries or happenings that would lead the police detective to the truth, meaning that the reader did not have all the elements in hand to work out the solution. 

In ひげのある男たち there are a lot of passages where the policemen and prosecutor discuss the case, using the elements that the reader already knows and thinking about each and every possibility. I really liked how Gohara would take notes to summarise what we know about each suspect, who is more likely or had the best opportunity to commit the crime.

I read reviews saying that there were too many moustaches in this novel. Though this is true, it did not bothered me at all, and. I actually found it quite funny. 


Speaking of which, there is just the right dose of humour in this novel. Gohara’s amour-propre (as a policeman and a man proud of his own moustache) as well as his patience (towards colleagues and witnesses) are put to the test, which led to some funny moments.  

To conclude, I was really impressed by this novel, it is entertaining and goes right to the point without any unnecessary digressions. When the solution is revealed, everything is explained in details which is something that I greatly appreciate. I am looking forward to reading the other books of the series! 

Other books by this author:
夜の終わる時 (よるのおわるとき)
Cover of 長い長い眠り. Cover illustration: A green background with several objects drawn on it: a shirt and pants, glasses, a handwritten message, a lamp…2
Cover of 中のいい死体. Cover illustration: several objects are drawn on an orange background: grapes, a police hat, a bag of medicine and a comb.3