cover image Death Among the Undead

Death Among the Undead

Masahiro Imamura, trans. from the Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (232p) ASIN B09CRSNP6S

Imamura’s brilliant debut blends fair play mystery with horror. A group of Shinko University students have planned a getaway to a boarding house in the mountains. Most are members of the university’s film club and plan to shoot a ghost movie there. When a threatening note turns up in the film club’s room (“Who will be the sacrifice this year?”), an apparent reference to the suicide of a previous year’s attendee, several people drop out. They are replaced by three outsiders: the president of the university’s mystery society (who has “a reputation as the Holmes of Shinko”), his Watson-like sidekick, and a literature student known as a crime-solver. Sure enough, tragedy strikes. The boarding house comes under assault from zombies, victims of a bioterror attack at a nearby concert. Meanwhile, a murderer leaves a victim bearing marks of a zombie attack in a locked room. This variation on a closed-circle golden age puzzle is consistently inventive and builds to a satisfying reveal. Imamura’s creativity signals new options for the puzzle mystery. (Nov.)