The Honjin Murders, Seishi Yokomizo
This is, apparently, the classic Japanese murder mystery. It is a locked-room mystery, with a remarkable solution, and it has all the hallmarks of early detective fiction. There's a big old country house, a high-ranking family, an evil looking stranger, snow that reveals no footprints, an eccentric genius detective. There are even four scraps of paper left unburnt in the fire which provide vital clues. And the deflection is done so well that the whole thing goes off like a magic trick. One of the main events was reasonably predictable, but not the way it happens. And the solution is astonishing. I prefer the sort detective stories like Margery Allingham or Maigret or The Blotting Book where the narratives flows more like a novel and there is less space given to the intractable series of clues that will eventually be resolved like a cryptic crossword. The best detective fiction works like a real story rather than a sort-of mechanical game. Some of the explanation at the end of a book like this always feels contrived, as if the point is to move pieces around on a board rather than elaborate on characters and circumstances. However, it's a page turner and I was puzzled until the end. The solution is perhaps the best I have read. If you enjoy Golden Age detective fiction this is a must read (US link).