|Gekkin player, A. Farsari (from Wikimedia commons)|
Meanwhile detective KINDAICHI Kousuke (金田一耕介) is one of the people sent to accompany Tomoko and family to Tokyo. An unknown client has asked his lawyer to engage him, because he and others have received anonymous letters threatening a series of deaths if Tomoko leaves the island. The girl, says the letter, is a queen bee, destined to bring death to the males drawn to her, like her mother nineteen years ago. Kindaichi warns that he is no bodyguard, but he starts investigating the earlier case. Soon however, at a hotel on the Izu peninsular where the family are resting on the journey, the first of Tomoko's suitors is murdered. He is soon followed by other victims, most of them men who had been pursuing Tomoko. Will Kindaichi catch the murderer before it is too late? (Of course he won't. Kindaichi only ever solves a case when pretty much every possible victim has already died.)
Most Kindaichi stories are set in one region, generally rural and isolated. In this book, as in a couple of others we change scene several times, first to the hotel on the mainland, then to Tokyo, finally back to Gekkin Island. This gives the story a slightly more modern feeling; but we are still in a fairly traditional environment (e. g. murder at a Kabuki performance). Much of the mystery concerns what happened nineteen years ago. We get a lot of hints throughout the story; but it is only towards the end that we learn what exactly was supposed to have happened then. There is a little locked room mystery for readers to solve. The first Kindaichi novel is one of Japan's most famous locked room mysteries (The Honjin Murder Case), and Yokomizo has quite a few locked room mysteries in the other books in the series; but the three I have come across are much less ambitious affairs than that first one. I did think this one was a good use of special conditions, though. Like Ho Ling (here), I thought that the whole story was in some senses undersupplied with clues. Most readers will probably spot the killer. There is one good reason (beyond conjectural joining the dots) to suspect them; but most of the details of the various murders turn out to be basically irrelevant. Still, the story kept me reading, and the explanation did not leave me feeling cheated at the end.