book cover of Honeymoon to Nowhere
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Honeymoon to Nowhere

A novel by

The ghosts of World War II hover over this richly detailed 1965 mystery, written by Japan's most famous crime writer, Akimitsu Takagi. Etsuko Ogata is engaged to be married to a university lecturer, but her father, suspicious of the groom's past, hires a private investigator. The PI uncovers a link to a notorious war criminal. The bride's father, a former prosecutor, also finds a younger brother with possible criminal connections who died in a suspicious fire. "One black sheep is bad enough, but he has two in his family," he tells his daughter. "One can't help thinking there must be an ominous streak in him, too..."

But the young woman is 26 and just getting over an infatuation with a man who married one of her friends. Inevitably she goes against her parents' wishes and marries Yoshihiro Tsukamoto--despite noticing other kinds of strange behavior in him. On the night of their wedding, just before they are to leave on their honeymoon on the super-express train to Kyoto, Yoshihiro gets a call which he says is from a university official, demanding his immediate presence on campus. He leaves the hotel and never returns; his strangled body is found later that night.

The prosecutor put in charge of the case is a rising star named Saburo Kirishima--the same man Etsuko pined for before he married her friend Kyoko. (He also appears in the equally excellent but very different The Informer.) His investigation focuses on the person who called the groom at his hotel. Was it the bride's father? Or a young colleague in his law office who wanted to marry Etsuko himself? Or could it have been someone connected with the groom's family? As the meticulous details pile up, we learn as much about middle-class Japanese life in the 1960s as we would from any nonfiction book--but this way, we get to have fun trying to solve the mystery. --Dick Adler

Etsuko has fallen in love with a shy, studious lecturer at a university. But she has to tell her parents she's pregnant to force their agreement to her marriage. Their objection is to the rest of her fianc's family: his father was a war criminal; his deceased younger brother, a murderer. His only respectable relative is a research chemist who says he's too sick to come to the wedding. And then the groom is called away on the first night of the honeymoon by an urgent telephone call. His body is found the next morning and State Prosecutor Kirishima must discover who killed him, and why.

Genre: Mystery

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