Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Takagi, Akimitsu: The Tattoo Murder Case

Something different for me - a Japanese mystery.   Set shortly after the end of World War II though only published here in 1998, the book tells of a murder and the efforts of the medical student narrator
to help is police inspector brother solve the case.   The narrator is seduced by a beautiful young woman with a famous all body tattoo who is then murdered and dismembered with her head and limbs missing.   She is one of three children of a very celebrated tattoo artist whose sister is believed to have died at Hiroshima and whose brother has not returned to Japan after the war.   Various suspects include a senior professor who collects tattoos, i.e. the tattooed skins of the dead, a fellow
student who has taken up with the narrator after some years, the latter's brother whose mistress the
dead woman was and his manager who was infatuated with her.   Nothing seems resolved when the 'missing' brother turns up living as a tattooist even though this has been banned.   He tells the narrator
that he will produce a solution but asks for time to do so - before he can, he, too, is murdered.   At this point with the police baffled, time passes and all leads have gone nowhere.   A new character is
introduced who is best described as a young Japanese Sherlock Holmes who proceeds to work out
who the killer is by deduction.   The novel was a great success when published and this is easy to
accept.   What takes place is clearly set out and there is no need to suspend belief as the events that
are related fall into place - there are coincidences but none startlingly so.   The denouement, when it
comes, is surprising and strongly presented.   Well worth reading.

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