Recently, I finished reading 風の中の女 by 北方謙三
I picked it up on a whim a number of years ago in a random Japanese bookstore (probably somewhere in Hokkaido, but I forget exactly). I had never heard of the author nor did I know anything about the book. There aren't many reviews in any language, so I thought I'd write up something. Spoilers will be marked, but should generally be minor.
Unfortunately for me, the book is part of a two part series. I have not read the first book so many things were confusing for me. This series apparently the only one that the author has written featuring a female protagonist. The author writes mostly hardboiled mystery novels.
The story follows independent interior designer Miyu. It begins by describing her everyday life with her assistant 典子. Things start to pick up a bit when characters from the prequel start showing up again.
One thing that quite annoyed me about the writing was that the author would go between plot points really quickly and it was hard to follow them all. For example, in the middle of the book there was a scene where Miyu goes to lie down on her bed but then discovers a cat's neck in it. That is quickly followed by Miyu getting into some trouble. I felt like I barely had enough time to process the discovering of the object, but the author had already moved on. There were a number of other times this happened. Something plot relevant would occur and the story immediately talks about it as a fait accompli. I had to deduce backwards from the implications that a plot relevant point had occurred instead of having it clearly communicated to me. That made it hard for me to follow along. Perhaps other people might have an easier time.
It was hard for me to visualize all the things that were happening. book has a lot of action scenes, including a long car chase. Reading some Japanese reviews, lots of people found them exciting. However, after the first 10 pages or so of that long scene, I got fairly It just felt like a word salad to me. It could be just my Japanese language skill was weak.
The protagonist was not particularly interesting. There was an afterward written by a reviewer that I agree with. That reviewer claims that author was not particularly interested in writing the human characters. Instead the author wrote lovingly about the various sports cars and fashionable suits and things like that. It definitely shows in the amount of effort to talk about those aspects.
Lastly, the villains of the novel was completely and utterly lame. Bigger spoiler: They barely show up in the pages itself and there's no real understanding why they were so interested in ruining Miyu's life. I felt the same way towards them that Miyu does at the end: complete apathy.
I've mostly only talked about things that I felt unenjoyable about the book, so now maybe I should mention some more enjoyable and interesting aspects. I enjoyed a part in the middle where someone was trying to buy out Miyu's 2 perseon company. Miyu didn't reject it but name a ridiculous price of 1 billion yen (~10 million USD). I thought that was a pretty cool moment by her.. This was also the first novel I've read in Japanese where I felt like I didn't need to use the dictionary much at all. That made reading it much faster and may have been a result of the genre. Another interesting aspect was that the choice of 漢字 was often very unusual and old. For example, 較べる for 比べる、蒲団 for 布団、毀れる for 壊れる. The book was written in the late 80s, so I wonder why the 漢字 forms were so odd.
Overall, I can't really say that I would reccommend the book. But for me personally, I did feel a sense of progression in my language studies.
Any error corrections or comments can be made by sending me a pull request.