John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.
First published in Japanese in 1975, this novel tells the story of Tsuneo Asai, a civil servant whose wife Eiko dies unexpectedly while he is away on business. Apart from the shock of her sudden death, Asai is puzzled by the circumstances of his wife’s death. What was she doing in a part of the city where he would never expect her to go?
Over the following weeks, what could have happened to Eiko preys more and more on Asai’s mind. As he investigates, he begins to discover that she has been leading a double life and with each new discovery he makes, his life and his mental state slowly begin to change. He believes his life to be a respectable, if rather ordinary one while his marriage is solid. The fact that his wife died in a disreputable part of town is almost incomprehensible to him.
Matsumoto is an unfamiliar name to this reviewer. He died in 1992 but is significant in the genre as he had an important influence on the detective story in Japan. He moved away from the more formulaic detective novels, adding aspects of human psychology and everyday life.
Thus, in this short novel, it appears at first that Aseo is simply going to solve the puzzle but over the pages, we see how a man’s ordinary life, which is ordered and under control, begins to unravel bit by bit. His social standing is of primary importance to him as is his position at work. Nevertheless, slowly but surely, Asai finds himself in circumstances completely alien to him. He begins to lose control of the situation which leads to an inevitable but tragic conclusion.
Crime Writer and former Chair of The Crime Writers Association Russell James also reviewed this interesting novel earlier this month, so for another view point click here