Indie Review: The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda
Mystery in the Branches of a Crepe Myrtle Tree
Few books can put the reader in a thunderstorm and cause her to feel the pelt of thick, pouring rain like this one. Cloaked in mystery and scenery, you duck beneath an imaginary awning to escape the downpour.
Onda’s spellbinding murder mystery is painted vivid imagery. In this award winning novel, Onda uses interviews to tell the heartbreaking story of the murders of the prominent Aosawa family.
Amid the elements, this unique family story is told in first person point of view from the voice of the interviewees—in a way that allows the reader to cross into the pages. The reader becomes the author of the framed story, Makiko. Later Makiko’s assistant, then Young Master, a friend, and so on. This manner of writing gives the book a rich meaning. It haunts the reader when she sets the novel aside to return to the mundane duties of life.
The fact that it’s set in Japan doesn’t remove the story’s plausibility or distance the reader. One doesn’t have to be familiar with the country’s terrain or the language to feel as though they’ve been transported onto the corner where the Aosawa house once sat. Even a foreigner can traverse the sidewalks, talk to the monk, spy on the children at the party, and wonder: who poisoned the Aosawa’s and why.
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Article originally Published in the June/July 2020 Issue Summer Reads Edition.