Japanese Book Review: 動機 横山 秀夫

douki(doki  Yokoyama Hideo)

This is a collections of four stories and is part of a series of books about Prefecture D Police, so I expected all of the stores to be about the police force, but it turns out only the first story, which gives the book its name, has anything to do with police.

None of the stories are direct murder mysteries, so it offers some variety. The first story is from the perspective of a police officer who decided to keep all of the detective’s logs together to prevent loss, but they were stolen all at once making his plan horribly backfire. He races the clock to find out who stole the logs before they have to release the incident to the press. Thinking about different suspects and what their motive could be turns out to be the key to solve the mystery quickly.

The second story is darker, as it’s from the perspective of a released convict who murdered a high school girl. It tries to play up sympathy for the main character, but there were a lot of places where he could have made better decisions, so it’s hard to buy. I think I would be more sympathetic if he would admit to himself and take responsibility that he made some terrible mistakes instead of trying to rationalize his past.

The third story is about a reporter and how she views her situation, then finds out that things aren’t exactly as they seem. And the final story is about a judge who falls asleep in court triggering all kinds of challenges. He tries to deal with the situation while at the same time trying to understand his wife, who hides what she is thinking and feeling.

The stories are easy to read and are written in a straightforward style. One challenge was understanding the court system and vocabulary, but a thorough understanding is not too relevant to the story, and the relative positions of the characters and roles are clear without really needing to understand how the Japanese court system works. This is a great book if you are looking for a few short stories that are completely different, but have a similar writing style.