In 2018 and 2019, I encountered what are widely considered to be seminal works for a new generation of Japanese crime-fiction authors (the shin honkaku school that has already been referenced earlier on this blog). Both of them – The Tokyo Zodiac Murders (originally published in 1981 as Senseijutsu Satsujin Jiken or The Astrology Murder Case) and Murder in the Crooked House (published as Naname Yashiki no Hanzai in 1982) – were written by Soji Shimada, and strangely enough, I finished reading both of them on the Christmas days of the respective years.
Now, this was not my first stab at Japanese crime fiction, as I had already encountered the Kindaichi and Conan series and a few other titles before this, but it is safe to say that these books together sparked an almost academic interest in this field for me.
The ultimate alchemical achievement
At the time I read it, The Tokyo Zodiac Murders ranked among the goriest and bloodiest novels I had the pleasure of reading. It wasn’t sufficient that the body count was ridiculously high (seven – no, one may say, eight – victims); seven of these cases involved decapitation and dismemberments. However, it is not the number that is, personally speaking, a point of interest. Instead, it is the purpose of the clever, deliberate and intricate…