The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

51Qghc5XadL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_“Japan, 1936. An old eccentric artist living with seven women has been found dead- in a room locked from the inside. His diaries reveal alchemy, astrology and a complicated plan to kill all seven women. Shortly afterwards, the plan is carried out: the women are found dismembered and buried across rural Japan.

By 1979, these Tokyo Zodiac Murders have been obsessing a nation for decades, but not one of them has been solved. A mystery-obsessed illustrator and a talented astrologer set off around the country – and you follow, carrying the enigma of the Zodiac murderer through madness, missed leads and magic tricks. You have all the clues, but can you solve the mystery before they do?”

Take a compelling, intricate, well-written ‘locked room’ mystery and set it in Japan. What have you got?  Probably my perfect book!  My husband gave me this book as part of my Christmas present (one book, every month for 12 months) and he did his thorough, pain-staking research before choosing The Tokyo Zodiac Murders.  He chose a blinder!

An artist spiralling into madness decides to create his perfect woman, Azoth.  To do this he needs to kill and dismember six young woman.  Luckily for him four of his five daughters and his two nieces live in the same house as him so he doesn’t have to look too hard for his victims.

Unluckily for him he is killed and left in a locked room before he has a chance to create Azoth.  However if Heikichi Umezawa can’t make his dream woman then someone else will.  The bodies of the original six young women turn up dead, dismembered and scattered all over Japan.  Does this mean Azoth exists, and if so where is she?

The story is told from the perspective of Kazumi Ishioka who decides with his slightly strange friend, Kiyoshi Mitarai, to solve the mystery when they are presented with new evidence.  All of the clues are there for you to solve the mystery yourself so it’s a perfect read for amateur sleuths.  The culprit is of course revealed in the end so you’re not left disappointed.

I couldn’t put this book down.  It held my attention as I turned the pages and before I knew it the killer was being revealed!  There are three different investigations to uncover and each one blends seamlessly with the next.  I really warmed to Kazumi Ishioka.  He felt like the bumbling sidekick to Kiyoshi Mitarai’s super intelligent super sleuth.  Always three or four steps behind!

Did I work out who the murderer was?  No chance I’m afraid.  The book is so intricate and absorbing that I was just enjoying the story and paying little attention to what could and what couldn’t be a clue.  I absolutely loved this book and will recommend to anyone who asks in the future.  It really is THAT good.

Five out of five stars.

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada was originally released in Japan in 1981.  The version I read was released by Pushkin Vertigo on 17th September 2015 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (check out the covers of the other Pushkin Vertigo Crime series – they are so gorgeous!) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones

 

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