Turning Japanese #6: The 8 Mansion Murders (1989) by Takemaru Abiko (translated by Ho-Ling Wong)

Kikuo Hackisuka, owner of a construction company, built his own house in the shape of a digitally-displayed number 8. He had no idea that its very design would inspire someone to commit murder there.

His elder son, Kikuichiro, is the first victim, shot in the middle of the night by a crossbow, and it seems that only one person could possibly have done it. Fortunately for him, Inspector Kyozo Hayami, is more open-minded than some of his colleagues and begins to dig a little deeper. This ultimately results in a second murder but this time there are no possible suspects.

Kyozo is hindered by his hapless subordinate, Kinoshita, who suffers from worsening slapstick-style accidents as the investigation progresses, and helped by his sister and brother. After explaining one minor point which has baffled the police, the latter is allowed to deliver his own Locked Room Lecture* before solving the case.

The solution to the first murder put me in mind of two books by John Dickson Carr: one for a good reason, the other for a bad as there is a small element that could be considered deliberately unfair and didn’t really add anything in my mind. The answer to the second killing I definitely hadn’t come across before but whilst theoretically possible seems unlikely but then most of us don’t read this sort of book expecting likely, practical solutions.

The Locked Room International version includes a fascinating introduction by Soji Shimada and helpful author’s and translator’s end notes which explain some of the Golden Age and cultural references found in the text.

*Both of which include spoilers of varying degrees to other works. I’m afraid I can’t advise what as I skimmed some to avoid titles that I haven’t yet read and don’t want to look at them again.

Previous posts in this series:

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawa

The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

The Inugami Curse

 

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