cover image Murder in the Crooked House

Murder in the Crooked House

Soji Shimada, trans. from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai. Pushkin Vertigo, $14.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-78227-456-8

Set in 1983, Shimada’s brilliant sequel to 2015’s The Tokyo Zodiac Murders will thrill fans of golden age puzzle mysteries. Kozaburo Hamamoto, the president of the Hama Diesel company, has invited guests to celebrate Christmas at the unusual home he has constructed on Hokkaido. The building features intentionally sloping floors, and Hamamoto’s own rooms are in a tower resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which can only be accessed by a drawbridge connecting it to the main structure. Self-styled sleuth Kiyoshi Mitarai investigates when a member of the party is stabbed to death with a knife inside a locked room. Oddly, the murder weapon has some string attached to it. Other bizarre elements include one of the victim’s hands being tied to the foot of a bed and a scream apparently issuing from the corpse a half hour after the killing. The tension rises as one impossibility follows another before an effective and dramatic reveal. Shimada combines fantastic crimes with a logical and fair solution likely to stump even the most astute readers. (June)