The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

Published in the 1980s, set in the 1970s about a murder that took place in the 1930s.  Translated by Ross and Shika MacKenzie in the 2000s.  This book covered quite  a bit of time.

I saw this at the library and was intrigued by the concept of a Japanese mystery.  I am a sucker for translated works and I do love a good mystery.  I am frequently curious about what books, music, and movies are popular in other countries.  I forget how American-centric I am.  Finding gems like this one, helps remind me of the global scene.

The mystery in this book was well done.  I enjoyed playing along with the sleuths as they examined a 40 year old mystery.  I learned a new word reading the note from the publisher: “honkaku”.  This is a Japanese term for an orthodox mystery.  It tells a straightforward mystery without the psychological components.  There is no attempt to trick the reader.  Quite the opposite, the reader is encouraged and challenged to figure out the solution before it is given to them.

This new edition included a fair amount of information about the book.  This author was referred to as the Arthur Conan Doyle of Japan.  I can understand the comparison.  Throughout the book there were references to Sherlock Holmes the character.  There were also several similarities between the characters in this book and the great Holmes and Watson (but none of the cocaine.)

A note from the publisher at the end of the book, suggested they would be releasing future translations of crime fiction from France, Sweden, and Taiwan.  Yes, please.

I will be watching for further titles by both this publisher (Pushkin Vertigo) and this author.  As well as keeping my eyes peeled for other honkaku books from Japan.

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