The Tokyo Zodiac Murders (Pushkin Vertigo) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2015/9/15
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Astrologer, fortuneteller, and self-styled detective Kiyoshi Mitarai must in one week solve a macabre murder mystery that has baffled Japan for 40 years. Who murdered the artist Umezawa, raped and killed his daughter, and then chopped up the bodies of six others to create Azoth, the supreme woman? With maps, charts, and other illustrations, this story of magic and illusion, pieced together like a great stage tragedy, challenges the reader to unravel the mystery before the final curtain.
'The great Soji Shimada virtually invented the "logic problem" sub-genre ' - Guardian Top 10 Locked Room Mysteries (No. 2)
'Intricately constructed and entertainingly exotic' - The Japan Times
I ENJOYED IT
If you're a mystery fan, this should be part of your reading experience, and we can hope that the author's other mystery will also be translated into English.
It's a typical 'locked room' scenario where the reader is given clues and of course a lot of red herrings. I was confused about the murderer(s) until the big clue dropped, though motive was always difficult for any of the suspects.
I had the murderer pegged, and motive, until the issue of the mark on the body (I'm being vague in case someone missed the spoiler comments above so stop reading now!! ).
It was silly to think takiko could realistically pretend she had the birth mark when really it was her half sister who had it. Surely everyone in the family would know this.
Taken at face value the reader can only conclude that azoth was actually Reiko (one of the nieces) and the last body found had tokikos head (decomposed).
It's all a bit deus ex machina to say tokiko was able to "give herself" a birthmark and her mother not know. So in the end from the evidence you can only say azoth was one of the two nieces and pick Reiko due to her being the same age as the murderer.
Take the birthmark bit out of the story and it works a lot better. No one could predict a fake birthmark from the evidence given.