Death in the House of Rain

Szu-Yen Lin, trans. from the Chinese by the author. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (164p) ISBN 978-1-974337-79-8
Lin makes the tropes of golden age locked-room crime fiction feel fresh in this taut and ingenious whodunit set in contemporary Taiwan. English professor Renze Bai and his wife discover a triple murder at his brother Jingfu’s unusual home, a “three-dimensional presentation” of the Chinese character for rain: Jingfu’s head was beaten in with a hatchet, and his wife and daughter were both strangled. The following year, Renze, who has moved into the house with his daughter, Lingsha, invites Ruoping Lin, a philosophy professor and amateur sleuth, to investigate the killings. Ruoping’s visit coincides with that of several of Lingsha’s college classmates, and soon after his arrival, bodies start accumulating in seemingly impossible circumstances, even as a rock slide cuts off the remote mansion from the outside world. Genre veterans will be hard pressed to anticipate the jaw-dropping, but fairly-clued solution, and Lin’s deftness in conjuring a creepily claustrophobic atmosphere will make them eager for further translations of his work. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/18/2017
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