cover image The Voice and Other Stories

The Voice and Other Stories

Seicho Matsumoto. Kodansha America, $17.95 (179pp) ISBN 978-0-87011-895-1

Kabat's translation conveys the undiluted flavor of six tales by Matsumoto, long a favorite among mystery writers in Japan. Displaying his talent for tricking even sharp puzzle solvers, each story dramatizes a supposedly perfect crime. In ``The Serial,'' Yoshiko Shioda lives in Tokyo and subscribes to a small-town newspaper to look for the report of the death of two lovers who seem to have committed suicide by taking poison. In actuality, Shioda has murdered them. When she feels sure the police have no leads to her identity, she cancels delivery of the paper, explaining that a novel being serialized in each issue has become boring. This is a grave mistake as the author of the novel bridles at the insult and decides to find out the real reason why Shioda--who had written him a fan letter--has changed her mind about his work. As a result, he investigates the murders and proves Shioda guilty. The other entries feature ingenious variations on the theme of cunning killers tripped up by overconfidence, fears of imaginary pursuers who turn real, etc. (Apr.)