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If you’re looking for a book to add to your reading list, consider The Mill House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji. This Japanese mystery is wild, amusing, and cleverly plotted. It’s a cosy suspense novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat with its eclectic, semi-slow-burn, heart-racing suspense. This book is so engrossing that you may lose track of time and your surroundings while reading it.

The Mill House Murders

Neelam Sharma
Author: Yukito Ayatsuji

Thrill Factor

The Mill House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji is a book I fell in love with instantly. Do you want to know why? Of course, coz it’s Japanese literature and it gives off cosy vibes guys! I mean it seems to be just them, me, my favourite cuddly and my usual poison aka a large mug of tea. Voila! There I get transported to a land where there is simply awesomeness. The vibe, the ambience, I get so refreshed that I can see myself waddling through the deep, intense and sometimes dark alleyways of these mysteries perusing their intricacies and sometimes pleasant, sometimes gory (not much though in this one) and figuring out and mulling over things. It is one of the more exciting genres I feel if you ever want to get in the mood for reading something cosy as well as thrilling.

So, I just finished reading “The Mill House Murders” by Yukito Ayatsuji and Ho-ling Wong, a creepy albeit cosy mystery which occurs in a fictional manor-the Mill House built in a mountainous terrain. Narrated with a dual timeline, the main plot occurs over two Days including the past and the present, in which we follow a group of characters who arrive at the Mill House owned by Fujinuma Kiichi, who has as customary, kept an exhibit of his father’s paintings as an annual event. As the story proceeds along with the descriptions of the ambiences we also get to delve into the back story of Kiichi, getting to know the reason for his living, his seclusion since he wears a mask to hide his disfigured face. Whilst Kiichi was in an accident years ago, both he and his friend Masaki have been the victim of the trauma that ensued.

Cut to the present, the disappearance of one of the characters along with murders adds more suspense to the thrill spritzed in this one. There is panic, excitement, thrill, suspense and so much more that I can safely say that even the backdrop read-up was exhilarating as it only adds up to your excitement of furthering this one to a more complex outcome. 

With the arrival of Kiyoshi Shimada who is the Hercules Poirot in this mystery, whether some light is shed on these events or whether one is thrown headlong into the vortex of the suspense that grapples one from the start, well you gotta read the complete story for it.

Coming firstly to the characters was another standout feature of the book. Each one was fully fleshed out, with its quirks, flaws, and personalities. Fujinuma Kiichi self-exiled protagonist, struggling to come to terms with his past and navigate his feelings for Yurie. Yurie, in turn, was a complex character with the silence shrouding her. The supporting cast was equally compelling, with each character adding a layer of complexity to the mystery.

Coming to the narrative technique, the past-present style employed was brilliant, not deterring the gait of the narration for even an instant, adding a new dimension to the plot. One may argue that owing to the presence of more characters the entire feel to this one might be sort of a semi-slow burn suspense but hey that was what was exactly my point at the start. I want to be able to devour this one slowly, poring through every detail, adding up the 2s and the 4s and eventually being able to add up the synergy whilst having enjoyed the process of discovering things. Yes, there were things quite predictable but the plot, the characterizations, the writing style -well one word for all of it-Fantabulous! A tiny trifle of boo-boo for me was the overly detailed descriptions of the house which could have been a bit slick I feel.

Nevertheless, I cannot even begin to appreciate the picturesqueness of the descriptive since that is an aspect of any Author’s writing that personally works well for me. This is a trademark of Japanese thrillers, which was very much present in this one. When I read and slurp that detail, basking in the atmospheric vibe of it, drinking in the clouds floating along, basking in the warmth and exuberance of the surroundings, braving out those rains and storms, that is what works full circle for me for any great piece of writing. Kudos to Yukito for being able to breathe life in this manner into the story, adding so much life to it. How the past and the present play up beautifully together in sync is also commendable since it is not very frequent that we get to see such a brilliant synchronization of timelines, merging the story seamlessly and amalgamating it towards a bottleneck rollercoaster of a climax. One of the things that made this book so gripping for me was the intricate web of clues and red herrings that Ayatsuji weaves throughout the narrative. Every character has a plausible motive for the murders, and it was up to me to piece together the clues and try to solve the mystery before the final reveal. The tension builds with each chapter, and several heart-stopping moments left me gasping for breath.


All in all, amazing suspense, one you must pick up all said and done. A highly pulsating, electrifying, captivating thriller -one which breaks your usual standards of the regular Agatha Christie-Conan Doyle write-ups while tending to fall in the same genre. A great read-go to pick this one up.

So, hope you guys liked my thoughts on the book review of The Mill House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji.

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