From a past president of the Japanese Detective Writers' Association, six small, quiet murder stories—all more compelling for their insights into the Japanese character than for the believability of their plots. In the best piece here, "The Voice," a telephone operator misdials, hears a murderer reply, and much later recognizes the voice as an associate of her husband—who then plots her death and almost outwits the police with a tricky use of coal dust and a neighbor's fan. Except for "The Accomplice," which pits one bank robber against another, each of these misogynous stories involves doing away with troublesome wives or girlfriends, and three out of six have private detectives who help a murderer pinpoint his Victim's routine. Matsumoto seems overly fond of suicide notes, the diary format, harbored bits of newspaper clippings, and poison. Still, the scenery is nice and the Japanese implacability (one murderer waits seven years to strike; others a mere one or two) is remarkable, though it's not surprising Matsumoto is so infrequently reprinted here.
Read full book review >