First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Inspector Imanishi . . . Haiku poet, gardener, and the most dogged homicide detective on the Tokyo police force.
Happy Friday everyone! The workweek is finally done. After five days (four for Filipinos because Monday was a national holiday) of toiling hard at the workplace, it is time to dive into the weekend! Woah. I can’t believe that just a week ago, I was still in Kyoto, enjoying my time exploring the city, biding my time as I immerse in its culture and flair. I miss the cold weather of springtime Kyoto. I miss Kyoto’s efficient transportation system. I miss the thrill of exploring uncharted territories. Too bad I had to go back to reality. Speaking of reality, tax season is about to draw to a close. I am glad that we were able to file and submit our two income tax returns today. We can now breathe a sigh of relief. At least partially because there are still a lot of reports that need to be done; it is, after all, quarter end. I hope my fellow accountants and our brothers and sisters in the profession, the auditors and tax accountants, are hanging on tight. The silver lining is just over the horizon.
Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well and that they ended or are ending the week on a high note. I hope that you were also able to achieve your targets this week. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well, in mind, body, and spirit. As we enter a new quarter, I hope that the succeeding months will be filled with success, robust health, and good tidings for everyone. To cap the workweek, I am sharing a new First Impression Friday update. With the new quarter comes a new adventure. After spending the last two months immersed in the works of British and Irish literature, I decided to pivot to one of my favorite parts of the literary world: Japanese literature. While I usually host my Japanese literature month during my birth month, I decided to host it early this year mainly because of my recent travel to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Over the past few years, Japanese literature has developed into some sort of a safe haven for me. I found myself riveted by the works of literary powerhouses such as Yukio Mishima, Yasunari Kawabata, and Kenzaburō Ōe, among others. I have also become acquainted with the dazzle of contemporary Japanese writers such as Haruki Murakami, Mieko Kawakami, and Sayaka Murata. However, to kickstart my foray into Japanese literature, I resolved to start with writers whose oeuvre I have not explored previously. As such, the first four works of Japanese literature I read this month were by new-to-me writers. My current read, Seichō Matsumoto’s Inspector Imanishi Investigates, is no different.
It was through an online bookseller that I first came across Inspector Imanishi Investigates. The name was unfamiliar to me but it was a non-issue for me as I am always on the lookout for new reading adventures. With this, Inspector Imanishi Investigates is my first work of Japanese mystery fiction in over two years; Japanese literature is so vast that under its umbrella are several genres and subgenres. The book being a step out of the typical work of Japanese literature, I guess, was one of the primary reasons why I wanted to read it. In a way, it is a breather.
As can be expected, the center of the novel is a murder. When the novel opened, we find ourselves on the tracks of the Kamata Railroad Yard where an old man was found lifeless; there was no preamble as we immediately jump into the action. If the scene was any indicator, it was a murder. Tasked to spearhead the investigation was the titular Inspector Imanishi of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. His initial sleuthing, however, yielded very little clue as to the dead man. Nobody in the vicinity knew him although he was spotted drinking (cheap) whiskey with another man a couple of hours before he met his unfortunate end.
One word, however, became prevalent: Kameda. It was clearly heard by everyone who was with the two men at the bar. Was it the name of the man? Further investigation left a cold trail. Was it perhaps the name of a place? Inspector Imanishi somehow deduced that it can be a place as he spotted an Ugo Kameda in the Tohoku region in the northeastern part of Japan. It was a lead. Sure enough, there was hope but it soon fizzled out. Inspector Imanishi was at an impasse. As the story moved forward, the dead man finally had a name after his adopted son came forward and identified him. Miki Ken’ichi previously worked in the police force for decades before retiring.
We now have a name. The clues, however, are not adding up. I can’t believe I am this riveted by the story. Props to Matsumoto because he managed to reel me into the labyrinth of Inspector Imanishi’s investigation. Somehow, I can tell the ending of the story but in any work of mystery fiction, the most important part is the journey. I am interested to see how Matsumoto steers the story. Why do I feel like the railroad is a seminal part of the story? The dead body was found in a railroad yard. Inspector Imanishi’s primary mode of transportation to move from one place to another was the railway. Or is it a subtle homage to Japan’s efficient railroad system? Whatever it is, it somehow adds a new layer to the story.
Beyond the murder and its inevitable solution, one of the things I am looking forward to is learning more about Inspector Imanishi. He is an interesting character. He has spent years in the police force. He has solved several cases while, at the same time, being weighed down by the cases he was not able to solve. He enjoys the scenery more than the food when he travels. He also writes haiku! Yeah, language seems to be another subtly veiled mystery device. The book is an easy read and I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish it over the weekend How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. Again, happy weekend everyone!