Book review: 『仲のいい死体』by Shoji Yuki

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.
Title: 仲のいい死体 (なかのいいしたい)
First published: 1961
Series Number: 3
Page Count: 292
Hot springs are found in the fields of Kayo Mochida, opening a lot of possibilities and the prospect of money. What if the city became a renowned destination of onsen resorts? So when Kayo is found dead in what looks like a double suicide with a police officer, Gohara can’t help but feels that something is off.

This is the third book in the Sergeant Gohara series, and I am not sure whether this is the last one or not. On the Wikipedia page of the author, there is a fourth book listed, 隠花植物, but it is published by another publisher and it does not seem to entirely be part of the series. It is probable that Sergeant Gohara appears in this fourth novel, but the novel might not be centred around his investigation.

Contrary to the first two novels, this one is set in the countryside. Sergeant Gohara is now posted in a small town and seems to see murder everywhere. The suicide of a young woman some time ago looks suspicious to him, but when a man and a woman are found dead in what looks like a double suicide, Gohara is persuaded that there is more to it, but he has a hard time convincing his colleagues, which makes the investigation difficult.

This novel has an interesting setting that goes beyond simple relations of jealousy, envy and resentment. The discovery of hot springs, the desire to make money out of it and concerns about hygiene and regulations are considerations that serve as background to the story.

Otherwise, the way the investigation is conducted is very similar to the first two books, with a lot of discussions around every suspect’s alibi and motives.

Even though this one is my least favourite of the Gohara series, I really enjoyed this series overall, and I will continue to read Shoji Yuki in the future.