The Silent Dead is a Japanese crime novel by Tetsuya Honda and the first installment of the Reiko Himekawa series. It offers a glimpse into Japanese law enforcement, which is a huge blind spot to many Westerners. It also shines a light on corruption, sexism, and perversion that festers underneath the surface of Japanese culture, which is a blind spot to many Japanese themselves.
November is the perfect time for noir aka Noirvember, and that means it’s the perfect time for mystery novels. In Japan, the mystery genre is called suiri shōsetsu (推理小説) literally ‘deductive reasoning fiction,’ and has a long history in the Land of the Rising Sun. Here are just a few recommendations by Japanese authors to read during Noirvember.
All She Was Worth is a 1992 noir mystery written by Miyuki Miyabe, one of Japan’s most famous genre writers, including crime fiction. Taking place in the early 1990s, the novel captures the zeitgeist of the Bubble Economy of the 80s/early 90s, which would soon pop and led to the infamous “Lost Decade.”
Shanghai, 1935 – a Japanese sailor is gunned down in the busy streets, escalating tensions between China and Japan. Doug Bainbridge, an officer in the ONI – the US Office of Naval Intelligence – is tasked to investigate. Joined by his friends, Doug is sucked into a whirlwind of intrigue, double-dealing, and espionage.
A hardboiled detective seeks to unravel a noir mystery set against a cyberpunk, futuristic Los Angeles. The description conjures up images of Blade Runner, but it’s actually Dome City Blues by Jeff Edwards.
Eye of the Red Tsar by Sam Eastland is a historical mystery set in 1929, during the early days of Stalinist Russia. The first of the Inspector Pekkala series, it shines a light on an often-overlooked period, when the USSR was a strange international pariah, rather than the Red Menace of the Cold War.
Moscow Investigator Arkady Renko is back for his ninth and possibly last book, The Siberian Dilemma by Martin Cruz Smith. As with all Arkady Renko books, it’s filled with murder, intrigue, and wry Russian humor.