Lifeline Bookfest p1

READERSVOICE.COM aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. For this issue, I attended the recent Lifeline Bookfest, where more than a million secondhand books went on sale over ten days in Brisbane. It's a fascinating event held to raise money for the charity Lifeline, which supplies services like phone counselling. These Bookfest events should be held in cities around the world.

There was once an artist who set out to draw every building in New York City. Maybe someone could try to review every book for sale at the Lifeline Bookfest. There were more than a million secondhand books for sale at the recent 10-day Bookfest. So they had better start reviewing sooner rather than later. Here’s the first one.
Inspector Imanishi Investigates was a page turning police procedural thriller by Seicho Mastsumoto that I picked up for seven dollars. First published in 1961, then in English in 1989, translated by Beth Cary, it’s about a homicide detective who relentlessly overcomes various obstacles as he tries to find a killer. The victim was a man in his early fifties. His body, strangled and battered, was found in a railway yard in Tokyo. The police don’t have any leads, and they close the investigation. But Inspector Imanishi won’t let it go.
He is a likeable character. He composes haiku on occasion. He’s married with a ten year old son. He likes a drink and a smoke. He almost looks forward to new murder cases. But he’s especially interested in this one.
We follow him through Tokyo and some smaller towns as he follows various leads and puts together the back story of the murder. The author describes the details of life in Japan at the time: the kimonos, the noodles hanging in the shop windows, the clatter of streetcars, the coffee shops, teahouses and pachinko parlours. During his inquiries, Inspector Imanishi visits a town that was destroyed in WW2 by air raids and then rebuilt. There are Buddhist festivals, and the countryside.
There are traditional Japanese houses where the size of the rooms is described by how many tatami mats fit on the floor. Inspector Imanishi might enter a two-mat room or four-mat room.
So you almost feel like you’ve taken a tour of mid 20th century Japan after reading the novel. But the description doesn’t get in the way of the story. It’s used to help create suspense. The story still rips along nicely all the way to the end when the whole tragic tale is revealed.

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