Book review: 『針の誘い』by Takao Tsuchiya

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.
Title: 針の誘い (はりのさそい)
First published: 1970
Series Number: 3
Page Count: 272
One-year-old Michiru, the daughter of the CEO of a confectionery maker, has been kidnapped. Public Prosecutor Chigusa arrives by chance on the scene of the crime, and the police is soon on the case. The parents are ready to pay the ransom, and they ask the police to not interfere. With the memory of past kidnapping cases gone wrong heavily weighing on police officers’ mind, the police tries to stay as discreet as possible, but…

This book is the third in the Public Prosecutor Chigusa series, and it is as good as the first two. 

The story opens with the kidnapping, and this remains the main topic of the book for the first part, but then it evolves into a whodunnit when murder happens and the investigation focuses more on solving the murder. To me, the book was a bit slow in the beginning, but became more and more engrossing as the investigation progresses.

Similarly to the other books of the series, and this is what I love the most in it, we go through a lot of scenes where prosecutor Chigusa discusses the case with his colleagues. Here again, Chigusa is not solving the case alone, but considers the input of police officers from different stations and different levels of experience. I like how they consider each possibility and pursue several leads, even those that will lead to a dead end. This makes the investigation feels more realistic. 

With a small cast of characters, the book still manages to let us guess and doubt until the end. 

There are some details that I found maybe a bit far-fetched, and some patterns were already present in the previous books, which felt a little bit repetitive, but overall, this is an excellent murder mystery, with an engrossing investigation, and some good tricks too.

It doesn’t look like this series is widely known, even though the first book won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award. The series is completely out of print and only the first three books are available as e-book. This puzzles me, because the series is excellent and deserves to be more easily accessible.

Other books by this author:
影の告発 (かげのこくはつ)1
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.2