The Ginza Ghost

Keikichi Osaka, trans. from the Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-1-543057-42-3
How did not one, but two men, vanish in broad daylight after stabbing a woman to death? How did a murderer strike multiple times in the close confines of a coal mine without being seen? Fans of classic impossible crime puzzles will relish this collection of 12 short stories, originally published in the 1930s and ’40s, written by a man who became obscure even in his native Japan. Time after time, Osaka (1912–1945) grabs the reader’s attention by setting up incredible situations that he eventually resolves logically. He excels at atmosphere, as in “The Demon in the Mine,” which makes the claustrophobic setting of a coal mine palpable. Other highlights include “The Mourning Locomotive,” which features the repeated use of a train to kill pigs, and “The Monster of the Lighthouse,” in which witnesses describe seeing something resembling a giant boiled octopus dive into the ocean from a room containing the battered corpse of a lighthouse keeper. The informative introduction, by Taku Ashibe (Murder in the Red Chamber), is best read afterward, since it contains spoilers. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/17/2017
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