The Decagon House Murders

Translation: Ho-Ling Wong


What to do if you want to murder a group of crime fiction lovers? After all, they know every trope, every solution and every trick – they will surely see through the most intricate plan in the blink of an eye! But on the other hand, isn’t it easy to manipulate such people, to mix things up and deliberately plant face leads? Especially if you know detective stories inside out yourself…

Seven students, members of the university’s club of crime fiction fans, travel for a week to an island cut off from the world. They are particularly excited by the fact that six months ago the island was a place of a horrible crime – a mystery which has not yet been resolved. What they do not know is that the peculiar ten-sided house in which they sleep will soon become the scene of another murder – od which any of the participants of the trip can become the victim.

The Decagon House Murders is the first book in the series “Bizzare Hosue Murders” by Yukito Ayatsuji, which quickly became a classic in Japan. From the very beginning, one of the protagonists makes strong declarations: crime fiction is for pure intellectual entertainment; violence, sex, moral issues or social problems are just decorations – the only things that counts is the mystery which the reader has to solve alongside the detective. And these are not empty words – and the plot is made yet more complicated by setting the story in the community of crime fiction fans. In this setting, each of the protagonists can be both a murderer and a victim, and above all, everyone wants to see themselves as a detective. At the same time, such a selection of characters allows the author to play with the most famous crime fiction tropes. Ayatsuji does not simply copy ideas from the greatest writers. He plays with motifs borrowed from the classics of the genre as well as with the protagonists – and most of all with the reader.

When I started reading The Decagon House Murders, I only made myself stop reading so that I could catch enough sleep and be awake at work the next morning. Yukito Ayatsuji’s novel is yet another wonderful crime story from Pushkin Press we chose for you (after Seishi Yokomizo’s Honjin Murders and Inugami Curse .) And certainly not the last one!

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