Monday 9 October 2023

Book Review: The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Kashiwai Hisashi (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: The Kamogawa Food Detectives
Author: Kashiwai Hisashi
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: 10 October 2023
Pages: 201
Format: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher

The Kamogawa Food Detectives, translated from Japanese by Jesse Kirkwood, is the first book in the bestselling, mouth-watering Japanese sleuthing series for fans of Before the Coffee Gets Cold.

What’s the one dish you’d do anything to taste just one more time?

Down a quiet backstreet in Kyoto exists a very special restaurant. Run by Koishi Kamogawa and her father Nagare, the Kamogawa Diner treats its customers to wonderfully extravagant meals. But that's not the main reason to stop by . . .

The father-daughter duo have started advertising their services as 'food detectives'. Through ingenious investigations, they are capable of recreating a dish from their customers' pasts – dishes that may well hold the keys to forgotten memories and future happiness.

From the widower looking for a specific noodle dish that his wife used to cook, to a first love's beef stew, the restaurant of lost recipes provides a link to the past – and a way to a more contented future.


The Kamogawa Food Detectives is a book I read in almost a single sitting (I only started the first 25 pages the night before reading the rest). I definitely didn't dislike it, but at the same time, I think my expectations for it were a little too high due to the blurb comparing it with Before the Coffee Gets Cold. I personally felt it lacked the magic of that other series. The stories of the people coming to the restaurant in search of their remembered dishes were interesting to an extent, but I was never swept up in them and never became emotionally involved. The prose also felt a little clunky at times, and I am not sure if that was a reflection of the original style or a facet of the translation. In conclusion, if you like this type of Japanese contemporary literature then I am sure you will find something to enjoy here as this book is written in that standard vein. However, for me, it didn't hit the mark quite as well as some others. As such, I am giving it 3.5 stars. It's worth a read for existing fans of the genre.

I received this book as a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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