A female's limbs and head are found in a locked bathroom, and all the doors and windows of the house are locked. The dismembered body is discovered by two admirers, Professor Heishiro Hayakawa, a collector of tattoo skins, and Kenzo Matsushita, the nave, lovestruck younger brother of Detective Chief Inspector Daiyu Matsushita. The police's problems are compounded by two additional murders. A tattooed manthe brother of the first victimis found dead and has been skinned, and victim number three, the jealous lover of the woman, is found dead from a gunshot to the head. Frustrated by their inability to solve these crimes, the brothers Matsushita, who have joined forces, enlist the services of Kyosuke Kamizu, the "Boy Genius." Kamizu methodically analyzes the deaths, interviews the prime suspects, and quietly solves the case. Intermingled among the twisted plot is the Japanese tradition of myth and superstition, ritual, male and female relationships, the strong tradition of family and family honor, and the relationships of younger brothers to older brothers. Takagi, Japan's most acclaimed mystery writer, has created a first-rate mystery, excellently translated into English.Janis Williams, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
If you like classic mystery, read this book.The world of post-WWII Japan is brought to life in all its contrasts, bombed-out buildings next to perfectly preserved houses, people longing to return to normal life in the middle of chaos....If you're interested in tatoos, have one, or are considering getting one, read this book.
Mystery Magazine Online
If the title sounds like S.S. Van Dine gone Japanese, it should: This first English translation of Takagi's 1947 novel (first of a series starring his improbable Boy Genius, forensic medical student Kyosuke Kamizu) has all the mind-boggling braininess and dazzling artifice of mystery's Golden Age, spiced with voyeuristic close-ups of a dying art in which postwar Japan remains supreme: full-body tattoos. The plot focuses on the three luckless children of nonpareil tattoo artist Horiyasu, each of them tattooed with a mystical totema snake, a frog, a slugwhose combination, even one to each blood relative, spells trouble. Trouble wastes no time in finding Horiyasu's daughter Kinue Nomura, whose fears that she's being stalked by a killer are fatally confirmed when her brand-new lover, military medic Kenzo Matsushita, finds her dead and dismembered inside her locked bathroom. Just as Kinue's death is only the first in a series of grisly tattoo-oriented killings, the bizarre twist Takagi puts on this dismembermentKinue's tattooed torso is missing, leaving only her head and limbsis only the first of a series of Grand Guignol touches evidently calculated to outdo John Dickson Carr in both ghoulishness and ingenuity. Intricate, fantastic, and utterly absorbing. More, please.
Praise for The Tattoo Murder Case
“Like voyeurs, we follow Takagi down the charred streets of bombed-out Tokyo to scenes of fastidiously executed decadence . . . [A] tale of sexual obsession and perversity.”
—The New York Times Book Review
"The Tattoo Murder Case is a delightful, different book, not only because of its unusual setting and premise, but because Takagi is a powerful plotter and constructor of fascinating, complex characters. Introducing American audiences to great foreign mysteries (as well as unusual domestic voices) has become a Soho Press trademark, and almost everything in its catalog is top-notch. The Tattoo Murder Case is a high-water mark even by those high standards."
—The A.V. Club
“Clever, kinky, highly entertaining . . . I want more.”
—Washington Post Book World
—The Seattle Times
“An engaging, refreshingly different invitation to fictional mayhem.”
—Arizona Daily Star
“Intricate, fantastic and utterly absorbing. More please . . . Calculated to outdo John Dickson Carr in both ghoulishness and ingenuity.”