by Seichō Matsumoto
A post-war Japanese crime novel. Plotwise, it's very complicated and
tightly-woven, replete with subtle clues and red herrings. But
stylistically, it's plodding. Probably due to the translation, the
writing is choppy and repetitive. And perhaps because of the culture,
perhaps because of the period, the process of investigation is laughable
at times. Examples: the overheard word "Kameda" is instantly assumed -
for no apparent reason - to be a person, and the police proceed to look
for such a person, assuming he's in Japan; when Imanishi talks to a
very guilty-acting suspect, he allows the man to tell the police what he
knows the next day, instead of taking him into custody then and there.
In short, some of the investigating is carried out as if a retarded and
exceptionally naive five-year-old is at the helm. But overall, it
comes through with an intricate murder scheme and some subtle police
work. And it's also intriguing as a diary of Japanese thought and
cultural activity of the time.