Six of the best detective stories from Japan's foremost master of mystery. The puzzle in these intriguing tales lies not so much in "who dunnit" but rather in how it was done.
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Seicho Matsumoto (1909-92) was born in Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu. Japan's foremost master of mystery, Matsumoto was forty years old before he launched his literary career. His first work appeared in the influential Weekly Asahi in 1950. Two years later, he received the coveted Akutagawa Literary Prize for his Aru kokura nikki den. He also received the Japan Detective Story Writers' Prize for his short story Kao ("The Face"). His novel Ten to sen, Points and Lines, became a best seller and created a "Matsumoto boom!" His novel Suna no utsuwa has been translated as Inspector Imanishi Investigates. A prolific writer, his work includes not only novels and short stories but also essays and a thirteen-volume series on the history of the Showa period (1926-89).Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
On that morning--to be exact, around 6:30 A.M. on October 13--a newspaper delivery boy was peddling his bike down a small road from Tanashi to Yanagikubo when his attention was suddenly caught by something beside the road. The leaves on the trees and grass were yellow, but what had attracted the boy's gaze was something lying among the weeds with what looked like a floral pattern on it.
He stopped his bike and approached the thicket. A light gray dress with dark red checks lay in the grass. In the morning air, the colors seemed strangely cold and fresh. When the boy noticed black hair and two white legs sticking out, he jumped on his bike and rushed off in a panic.
One hour later a pathology team from the police department arrived. The three black and white patrol cars were imposing; but there wasn't a soul passing on the quiet Musashi road, just a few people staring from a distance. Residential houses had recently been built here and there in the fields next to the farmhouses. It was that kind of neighborhood.
The dead woman was about twenty-seven years old, of slender build and with delicate features. Her face, contorted as if in pain, was powdered with some kind of blackish substance. The bruise on her throat looked like a red birthmark. It was obvious that she had been strangled.
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