The name Konomys is an abbreviation of Kono misuteri ga sugoi!, or literally, "This mystery is amazing!"—the title of an annual, end-of-the-year book guide from magazine publisher Takarajima-sha, which first appeared in December, 1988. Strictly speaking it is not a prize, but rather a "best of" list covering mysteries published during the past year (November 1 to October 31), which are voted on by a panel of critics, booksellers, college book club members, and other book lovers. For the 2012 edition of the guide, the panel numbered 74. Members rank their top six choices of the year in two separate lists for titles originally written in Japanese and those translated from other languages, with ten points going to their first choice, nine to their second, eight to their third, and so on; the titles placing highest in the combined scores in each division are then given write-ups in a "top 20" list.
The Konomys rankings quickly caught on with readers when they first appeared because Takarajima-sha published virtually no fiction of its own and could be regarded as a neutral arbiter. The annual guide has since become an institution, followed closely by readers, booksellers, and publishers alike. Each year when it appears, signs touting "Konomys No. X!" quickly pop up on bookstore shelves.
The titles included on this website are all from the Japanese mystery rankings, but a sampling of titles topping the international list includes The Serialist by David Gordon in 2012; Bone by Bone by Carol O'Connell in 2011; and The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow in 2010.
In 2002, Takarajima-sha capitalized on the Konomys brand to establish the Konomys Award, a new-writer prize for which the winner is selected from submissions of unpublished work. Bestsellers have emerged from this program as well.