The Decagon House Murders

Tantor Audio. (Pushkin Vertigo, Bk. 32). May 2022. tr. from Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. 8:31 hrs. ISBN 9798765017142. $19.99. M
Japanese author Ayatsuji’s 1987 debut, a brilliant homage to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, was first translated into English in 2015 (another translation in his “Mansion” mystery series is coming in 2023). This complex puzzle mystery, known as shin-honkuko or “new orthodox,” features two sets of murders to untangle. Seven Kyoto University Mystery Club members visit an isolated island, now owned by a member’s uncle, to enjoy a week relaxing and, perhaps, solving the murders that occurred there just months before. Upon arrival, the students are cut off from the mainland, with no electricity or telephone service in a bizarre, 10-sided mansion that was designed by an eccentric architect who was killed along with almost everyone else on the island. In traditional locked-room style, the students, whose detective skills are useless in real life, die one by one. Narrator P.J. Ochlan’s lively performance accentuates the brisk pace and creepy, somewhat campy atmosphere. He nicely differentiates the large cast of characters, allowing listeners to concentrate on Ayatsuji’s wonderfully elaborate plot.
VERDICT A sure bet for classic-mystery lovers, this well-narrated thriller (hopefully just the first of many Ayatsuji audiobooks to come) should also appeal to adult and YA horror fans.
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