Book review: 『赤の組曲』by Takao Tsuchiya

Cover of 赤の組曲, showing a what looks like an ink painting of trees. It’s covered with filling colours (blue and pink) which makes the painting difficult to see.
Title: 赤の組曲 (あかのくもきょく)
First published: 1966
Published: 1976
Format: Bunko
Series Number: 2
Page Count: 276
Akio Sakaguchi visits public prosecutor Chigusa to ask for help: his wife Miyo has been missing for four days. The recent death of their son has driven her to the edge of a breakdown, and Sakaguchi is worried. Detective Nomoto and Chigusa start investigating while considering all the possibilities behind Miyo’s disappearance, but murder will soon show that the case is much more complex than it looks. 

This is the second book in the Public Prosecutor Chigusa series, and it was as good as the first one! The first title won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, and it belongs to my favourite books among the prize winners. This second novel is a fast-paced, engrossing investigation with a good ending, and just enough clues for the reader to work out the solution. 

The duo Chigusa and police detective Nomoto works very well, but we also see the contribution of other police officers from different police stations. I liked how the novel depicts police work and how several detectives will discuss the case together with Chigusa. The discussions where all scenarios are considered were the best part of the novel for me. I love seeing characters discussing the case and drawing conclusions from the elements at hand. This novel is not showing us the genius detective who works out the solution before everybody else but retains it until the very end. Rather, the reader is part of the investigation as everything is discussed openly in the pages.

それが一番わかりやすい解決だからだ。しかし、その推理には、本質的な矛盾がある。

The novel is short and the pace is very fast, the story is entirely focused on the case without superfluous parts. So if you are looking for an engrossing novel that is quick to read and not too difficult, this one is perfect. 

The solution was also very good, and I was able to work out the solution only a few pages before it is revealed. 

The only thing that I don’t understand is why such a good detective series is not more popular. All the books of the series are out of print and only the first three ones are available digitally. I saw that the Chinese translation was on Goodreads, but unfortunately, even this edition is out of print and not digitalised. 

Other books by this author:
影の告発 (かげのこくはつ)1
Cover of 針の誘い. On a red background, the picture of a very young child sitting and facing towards us. There is a black rectangle across the child’s eyes, as it to conceal her identity.3