Book review: 『むかし僕が死んだ家』 by Keigo Higashino

むかし僕が死んだ家 (むかしぼくがしんだいえ)
Title: むかし僕が死んだ家 (むかしぼくがしんだいえ)
First published: 1994
Published: 1997
Format: Bunko
Page Count: 313
むかし僕が死んだ家 has been translated into French by Manuel Tricoteaux under the title La maison où je suis mort autrefois (Actes Sud).

I have loved all the books that I have read by Keigo Higashino so far, so I was sure to love this one as well. I was therefore surprised to see that I did not like the beginning of this book. The first chapter (around 100 pages) was quite slow and it took me a while to get into the story. However, starting with the second chapter, the book becomes extremely addictive and I could not put it down.

Interestingly, there are only two characters in this book: our nameless narrator and his ex-girlfriend Sayaka. What annoyed me with the beginning is that we hardly know the two protagonists, but we are asked to follow them in what seems like a strange adventure. The story begins with Sayaka making a weird proposition to our narrator, and as we hardly know the two of them at that point, I had a hard time feeling involved in Sayaka’s quest.

Our protagonists investigate an abandoned house and try to reconstruct the life of the family who lived there… and try to understand why they seem to have suddenly disappeared. The book then turn into a really addictive exploration of the past, filled with mysteries and untold truths. The end is really good too and overall, this book was a real page-turner.

The book also touches upon heavy topics that give more depth to the character of Sayaka, making the book more and more interesting as we get to know her better.

Overall, 『むかし僕が死んだ家』 makes for a quick, entertaining read. If you like stories of abandoned houses and family secrets, you will certainly love this book. It is not a horror story, though it does have a slightly spooky atmosphere to it.