Just as the works of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbø have popularized Scandinavian noir to fans in many countries, so too have Japanese mysteries begun to increase in popularity worldwide. In Japan, traditional plot-driven puzzle mysteries are known as shin-honkaku, a genre that continues to be popular. Contemporary voices are adding more psychological twists, creating a modern style that pays homage to classic mysteries. Since 1955, the Japanese Mystery Writers Associations awards the Edogawa Rampo Prize to that year’s best mystery, an award similar to the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award.
Here are some classic and contemporary authors of Japanese mysteries, both in the shin-honkaku and other styles.
His other works available in English translation include the manga series Another.
Keigo Higashino is one of the most popular fiction authors in Japan. His novel Naoko was awarded the Mystery Writers of Japan prize in 1999 and his work The Devotion of Suspect X was the second highest selling book in all of Japan when it was published, winning the Naoki Prize for Best Novel.
Her smash hit novel Out was the first of her works to be translated into English and other languages. Out was nominated for the 2004 MWA Edgar Allan Poe Award in the Best Novel Category, making Kirino the first Japanese writer to be nominated for this major literary award. Her other works are now underway to be translated and published around the world.
Seichō Matsumoto (December 21, 1909 – August 4, 1992) is credited with creating a new tradition of Japanese mysteries. Dispensing with formulaic plot devices such as puzzles, Matsumoto incorporated elements of human psychology into his mysteries.
In a career spanning four decades, he produced more than 450 works. His most acclaimed detective novels, including Inspector Imanishi Investigates and Pro Bono have been translated into a number of languages, including English.
Her novel Penance has also been translated into English.
Looking for more international mysteries? Be sure to check out our list of 100 Must-Read Mystery & Crime Novels Around The World.