The 8 Mansion Murders

Takemaru Abiko, trans. from the Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-986036-06-1
First published in Japan in 1989, Abiko’s outstanding impossible crime novel combines laugh-out-loud humor with an ingenious murder plot. Insp. Kyozo Hayami, of the Metropolitan PD, Division I, lands a head-scratcher after Kikuichiro Hachisuka, the vice-president of his father’s construction company, is killed by a crossbow bolt in the unusual figure eight–shaped house that he shared with his parents and two siblings. Kikuichiro’s mute sister Yukie and her sign language teacher witness the murder. Their testimony implicates Yusako Yano, the son of the household’s servants, from whose room the arrow was fired, but he claims that he was sleeping at the time, alone, and his door was locked. A second murder seems to have been committed by a crossbow that seemed to hover in the air. Kyozo’s accident-prone sidekick provides comic relief, and John Dickson Carr fans will appreciate the summation made by Kyozo’s younger brother, a devoted mystery fan, of the various possible ways a murder can be committed in a locked room. This is one of the funniest and cleverest novels of its type to hit the English-language market in years. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/09/2018
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