I love a good murder mystery. It offers me a safe escape room from the troubles of my mundane life and what’s not to love in a good old fashioned whodunnit?
However, give me a murder revenge story, and the vindictive monster inside me rears her ugly head (I like to imagine her as a kind of Medusa).
For those familiar with the Japanese brand of thrillers, you know these guys don’t hold back and their descriptions of the crime and the inner workings of the human brain can be pretty visceral.
And that’s why, when I came across Confessions by Kanae Minato, I knew it would be the perfect pick for ‘Crime Novel or Thriller in Translation’.
A mind bending, nerve wracking, edge of the seat thriller, Confessions is not a whodunit, but what happens to the ones who did it.
As the blurb states –
‘Her pupils killed her daughter
Now, she’ll have her revenge’
Our protagonist is Yuko Moriguchi, a middle school science teacher and a single mother to 4 year old Manami.
When Manami is discovered drowned in the school swimming pool in an apparent ‘accident’, Yuko suspects foul play and embarks on a mission to find out who committed this horrible act to her only child.
What follows is an edge of the seat thriller, a cat and mouse chase between Yuko and the kid(s) she suspects, culminating into a thrilling finale.
First of all, are school kids really that brutal? (I thought similar thoughts upon finishing Lord of the Flies, but that’s a story for another day)
I finished this book in one sitting. In my defence, it WAS a long train journey and I really had to do something to kill time. However, thinking back, even if I was home, I’d probably have finished it in one sitting, potentially cancelling plans so I could stay in and read it in peace.
Minato’s protagonist is a fierce mother driven by vengeance but, instead of going in all guns blazing, she is cold blooded and calculative, carefully planning her revenge down to the last move. She reminds one of an especially skilled chess player who has worked out every move beforehand, several times, to ensure there is no escape room.
I loved the fast paced narrative and the way Minato lays out the no holds barred revenge plan which leaves the reader feeling very satisfied but also slightly disturbed by the brutality of it all.
A Little Extra
Kanae Minato is an award winning Japanese novelist, who wrote her first novel Confessions in between house chores and her job as an economics teacher. She is also called the queen of ‘Iyamisu’ i.e. Eww Mystery, a sub-genre of crime and mystery thrillers which explore the most disturbing sides of human beings.
Confessions went on sell over 4 million copies in Japan alone before becoming an international bestseller. It was adapted into a movie in 2010.
It contains mild spoilers, but, I loved this article about Kanae Minato and Confessions.
If you’re curious about Iyamisu, this article is especially interesting.
Lastly, below the trailer for Confessions.
Reading Women Challenge – Prompts Completed 12/24
- A book with a rural setting
- A book with a cover designed by a woman
- A fantasy novel by an Asian author
- A book by a neurodivergent author
- Reread a favourite
- Protagonist older than 50
- Young Adult Novel by a Latinx author
- A book longlisted for the JCB prize
- A non-fiction book about social justice
- A book by an Arab author in translation
- A book by Yoko Ogawa
- Crime Novel or Thriller in translation
Cover image courtesy: amazon.co.uk