“The Aosawa Murders” by Riku Onda is about a tragic major crime, one that happened more than thirty years prior. The victims were not just those murdered that day, but those who lived through it as well; people were traumatized. A best-selling book had been written eleven years after the crime, but and this is the story of how those murders impacted survivors.
The book has a compelling rhythm as the story unfolds in a sequence of first person conversations and responses to unpublished questions from a hidden interrogator. The reader listens over the shoulder of the interviewer as the story unfolds in a casual, conversational style with comments and observations on things both pertinent and unrelated. Alternate chapters describe events in third person.
There is something enigmatic or indefinable about this about this crime, and little details and nuances about the murders slowly become apparent. People remembered things with apparently no significance but yet with an impact on the event when taken together — the rain, the crepe myrtle tree, the man in the yellow raincoat, a thin dog, red toy car, a phone call, a sheet of white notepaper. People did comment that they had premonitions and feelings that something was wrong, that something very bad was going to happen.
“The Aosawa Murder” is a conversation with all the players, observers, participants about what they remember, how they remember, what they felt then, and now they feel now. It is almost like investigating a haunted house; no one wants to go near it, but everyone has an opinion about it. I will not give spoilers or my own opinion, but leave readers to draw their own conclusions. This is a compelling look at the aftermath of a violent crime, something seldom addressed in typical crime fiction. It was both fascinating and thought-provoking. I read “The Aosawa Murders” by Riku Onda as translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts.