cover image The Red Locked Room

The Red Locked Room

Tetsuya Ayukawa, trans. from the Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (218p) ISBN 979-8-635405-00-0

The seven whodunits in this outstanding collection reveal Ayukawa (1919–2002) to have been one of Japan’s most accomplished writers of classic fair-play mysteries. Ayukawa is adept at the locked room puzzle, as shown in the clever title story, in which a dismembered corpse is found behind locked doors in a university hospital’s dissection room. He also excels at the impossible crime, such as the one in “The Clown in the Tunnel,” in which the killer, disguised as a clown, apparently vanishes from a tunnel. But where this gifted writer really shines is in creating, and then unraveling, time-related alibis. In “Death in Early Spring,” the prime suspect has proof he was on a train at the time of the killing, a conundrum that Chief Inspector Onitsura eventually cracks. The tour de force in this category, “The Five Clocks,” requires Onitsura to break an alibi buttressed by five clocks, including one at the noodle restaurant that made a delivery to the suspected killer. Ayukawa’s ingenuity will make golden age fans hope his novels will also be translated. (July)