Monday, March 14, 2011


Novelist Sunamura Etsuko is found murdered in a locked room situation in her own apartment. Bloody footprints are left leading from her corpse over to a full-length mirror and disappearing in front of it on the very spot. What is also found at the crime scene is a manuscript of her autobiographic short story dealing with her fear of mirrors. Is her supposedly dead cousin Ai staring at her from inside the mirror...?

This novel in the series of recently republished works by Imamura Aya is a very neat and representative example for the advent of Japan's mordern orthodox mystery fiction. It combines a fairly common everyday setting in the present (well, 90s) with a horror-like background and an impossible crime. Apart from the encompassing yet slight horror theme, it's very classical in structure and could almost be considered a modern Carr: Corpse turns up, impossible/weird crime scene gets depicted/analyzed, related characters are introduced and their backgrounds are discussed, another murder happens which leads to the final missing hints to deduce the whodunnit and howdunnit.

The whydunnit is left for the final chapter that delves deeper into the background of the case's narrative frame and leaves a strong horror aspect, that however does not have a direct influence on the main crime and it's construction at all. So this should not be a problem even for die-hard orthodox fans, especially since the mystery is pretty cleverly constructed overall. I figured out the culprit but had no idea how to prove his guilt and how that locked room came to be but the clues and hints were definitely scattered clearly all over the novel and if you interpret them correctly they connect brilliantly into one single possibility that absolutely left me satisfied in both solution and construction that leads there as you have to pierce through a lot of alibis and oddities but everything makes sense in the end.

Imamura turned out to be an author I definitely want to discover a bit more. Not only because of her satisfying orthodox skill, but also because of her writing that's somehow perceivably gendered when you look at how she vividly depicts her characters but I perveived this in a positive way since it reminded me of Christie's wit and Imamura's occasional black humor actually made me grin. Next up will most likely be a 館モノ by her that was included in a publication selection of Ayatsuji Yukito and Arisugawa Arisu, who wholeheartedly recommend this saying one should not miss out on this superb orthodox mansion mystery, so I'm looking forward to this one.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, the fear of mirrors-thingy is interesting, especially from an Edogawa Rampo-fan-viewpoint. Another name to add to the list, though I don't think I actually have the time to read it anytime soon =_=