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占星術殺人事件 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 JapanBy 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

  • Paperback
  • 320 pages
  • 占星術殺人事件
  • Sōji Shimada
  • English
  • 17 March 2016

10 thoughts on “占星術殺人事件

  1. says:

    CluedunitThe Tokyo Zodiac Murders is a uniue and intriguing murder mystery set in the same vein as a Sherlock Holmes mystery The master coaching the assistant through the clues while never totally revealing his decisive analysis until the end The genre belongs to the Japanese ‘honkaku’ subgenre which focuses on plotting and clues As a whodunit puzzle it is a very well structured plot with a locked room scenario uestioning how a killer committed a murder and then escaped from a room locked on the inside Then additional murders were attributed to the victim even though he was dead at the time of those deaths We're never uite sure what the motive really was or the number of killers and Shimada does a great job keeping this hidden while not affecting the story There are multiple clues and multiple red herrings in the detail but sifting through is a real puzzle and challenge for the readerA 'Last Will and Testament' is found with the dead body of an artist Heikichi Umezawa in Tokyo 1936 He claims in the Will to be possessed by the devil and dreams of the perfect woman Following the terminology of alchemy I shall call her Azoth which means “From A to Z” – the ultimate creation the universal life force She fulfil my dreams completely To create his perfect woman he reuires 6 different body parts the head the chest the abdomen the hips the thighs and the lower legs each must come from a different woman Heikichi has 1 daughter to his first wife 3 stepdaughters and 1 daughter to his second wife plus 2 nieces The devil is apparently telling him to sacrifice 6 of these young women the eldest stepdaughter is too old to create Azoth from the separate parts The plan introduces alchemy astrology and geography defined in great detail especially at the start of the book The most baffling aspect of the case is that the plan is implemented perfectly but after Heikichi’s death For over 40 years this has remained one of Japan’s most infamous studied and elusive cases which has been investigated by numerous professional detectives and amateur sleuths No one has solved the riddle of – who how why?In similar Sherlock Holmes style 43 years later Kiyoshi Mitarai and Kazumi Ishioka Holmes and Watson embark on solving the case Kiyoshi has his idiosyncrasies and deeply meditative episodes while Kazumi is the industrious partner who is smart enough to follow leads and have sound opinions but is missing the crucial connections and insights that Sherlock sorry Kiyoshi hasThe facts of the case are delivered as a dialogue between Kiyoshi and Kazumi which enables detail and anticipated uestions to be aired and discussed with the reader drawn into the conversation The plot will certainly appeal to an analytical mind At 74% into the book the author directly reaches out to the reader and challenges them to solve the mystery and identify the killer Stating that he has now provided all the clues necessary From this point on the solution will be revealedThe structure of the novel was a new and refreshing one for me I highly recommend this book especially for the puzzle solvers Enjoy the puzzle it is a very uniue and interesting plot

  2. says:

    ”My name’s Kazumi Ishioka I’m a huge fan of mysteries; in fact they’re almost an addiction If a week goes by without reading a mystery I suffer withdrawal symptoms Then I wander around like I’m sleepwalking and wake up in a bookshop looking for a mystery novel I’ve read just about every mystery story ever writtenBut of all the mysteries I’ve read The Tokyo Zodiac Murders was without a doubt the most intriguing”Kazumi is not only obsessed with mystery novels but he is also obsessed with his brilliant friend Kiyoshi Mitarai who is not overly ambitious but does get motivated when there is a puzzle to be worked out When Kazumi challenges him to solve the 40 year old mystery of the Tokyo Zodiac Murders he is intrigued enough to devote his little gray cells to the task of solving it Kiyoshi Mitarai’s name means clean toilet which is humbling for even the most arrogant of men I think I’d flip a few letters around or change my name completely but then it would probably be fine if his friend Kazumi didn’t point it out to everyone they meet Kazumi is his Watson and as this investigation into the Tokyo Zodiac Murders continues he like Watson at many points in the Holmes stories begins to believe that he can find his own clues and make his own break in the case Which is simply adorable What he forgets is even when Kiyoshi doesn’t seem to be doing anything he is still pondering the case ”I had often complained about Kiyoshi’s oddity but I never doubted his talent his intelligence his knowledge and his powers of intuition Those were the good things about him But they lingered just on the other side of catastrophe”This is a locked room mystery which harkens back to the golden age of British detective novels The writer in these types of books has to release information to the reader in such a way to inspire conjecture but not enough information to let the reader solve the case too uickly Certainly Soji Shimada accomplishes this He even pops into the novel at one point to say that the reader has all of the information reuired to solve the case which is a bit of a nana nana boo boo moment for this reader I am uite content to be spoon fed the solution at this point because my head is spinning but for some of you brilliant deductionists out there I’m sure you would have the murders solved and the killer in mental handcuffs already An artist Heikichi Umezawa is murdered in his studio with no discernible way for the murderer to have left the room There are a few clues that only seem to make the crime baffling He is a painter of the astrology and working on a series of paintings of the zodiac upon his death What is fascinating is the discovery of his journal detailing his plans to create the perfect woman from the chopped up pieces of his female family members He has notes saying which woman has the best thighs the best breasts the best torso and so on He wants to create the most beautiful of Frankenstein’s monsters This is certainly disturbing but what is disturbing is that after his death seven of the women are killed and dismembered What? Wait? But he’s dead What madness is this The case isn’t any easier because it is forty years old Witnesses have died or moved away The investigation is beyond cold It is Arctic Little did the original investigators know but all the “pieces” were there for them to solve the case forty years ago Fortunately Japan’s version of Sherlock Holmes who is not addicted to cocaine or as showy with his deductions is on the case Speaking of Holmes there is this funny bit in the book where Kiyoshi is critical of Holmes and Kazumi takes exception We do find ourselves defending our fictional friends from time to time don’t we? If you like books to tease your brain then warm up some sake and stir up some miso soup You will need to be properly fortified to ponder away as Shimada unspools the clues If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

  3. says:

    Another marvelous book I would never have known about but for Goodreads friends I suppose if I hadn't been private my first six years Mt TBR would now consist of 9382 books and if I lived long enough I'd be much better for it as this is another one I just loved Other than every Agatha I am not much for mysteries the violent ones the ones with stalkers the ones written on a sixth grade level don't interest me And in the few I do read I have never before guessed the murderer I'm not logical that wayThe bar here is high I worked one thing out very late that's not very impressive and thought this must be impossible to figure out but just read a few reviews where people did The Tokyo Zodiac Murders published in Japan in 1981 is part of the genre known as 'the Japanese locked room mystery' and Soji Shimada is a master of it For me it was utterly absorbing and a totally different flavor than I've read before Right brains may want to pit yourselves against Shimada's sleuths and left brains like me can enjoy the ride the clever plotting and great writingIt opens with a letter titled Last Will and Testament in which a man a visual artist a painter who was murdered in his locked country home explains how using alchemy and astrology choice body parts and lots of sawing he will act on his obsession to create from six virgins the perfect womanFollowing the terminology of alchemy I shall call her Azoth which means 'from A to Z' the ultimate creation the universal life force She fulfills my dreams completely She'll be buried at the precise center of Japan using latitude longitude and astrology and once buried will restore the glory of the Japanese empire The other body parts will be buried according to the girls' astrological signs scattered across the country And then he explains he will use his own virgin daughters and nieces all in their twenties chop up their bodies based on astrology and what he finds the most attractive bits of each for Azoth the prettiest head the best chest as determined by the breasts abdomen hips thighs and legs I am mesmerized by her beauty he writes her psychic power her vigour I know I would be incapable of painting her on a canvas Would I be able to bear seeing her with my own eyes? My desire is slowly killing meI would gladly give up my wretched life if this perfect woman were to become a realityFrom there Shimada moves to Act One The novel from here is set up like a play with intermissions and even asides Here we learn this came to pass in 1936 All of the girls are dead and he was killed in the locked country home he secured for the purpose of creating Azoth The extraneous body parts have been found precisely where he said they'd be but Azoth has yet to be located He's been labeled 'The Tokyo Zodiac Killer' and police and legions of amateur detectives have tried for forty three years to find Azoth and solve the mystery of his death A book was written theories created land dug up over the years but the case has remained unsolved We are introduced to Shimada's sleuths The novel's narrator tells us he's obsessed with mysteries and that part of the bigger picture at the time was that the failure to solve the murder seemed to symbolize the darkness surrounding pre war Japan The mystery has eaten at him since he was young and he hopes and believes the one who can solve it is Kiyoshi Mitarai a professional fortune teller and astrology teacher whom the narrator met taking his astrology class a year ago Kiyoshi is extremely intelligent intellectually curious and at times inscrutable There's a Thing going on here with Sherlock and Watson Kiyoshi professes disdain for Sherlock and does a terrific take down of Holmes at one point I found both on point and hilarious But as the book goes on Sherlock will come up again and this reader was delighted to realize Shimada has laid in something meta here in this game that's afootFrom the opening manifesto to the end this book is fascinating There are Things I don't like I'm not good at math astrology latitude longitude details like the depth of each girl's burial But it's laid out bit by bit and with charts to refer to in such a way that even I could follow along I was rapt The Tokyo Zodiac Murders held my attention so much that once I didn't even hear the phone ring inches from me Shimada is a great writer I can't imagine how much better it would be reading the original Japanese but no doubt it is Kiyoshi Mitarai is a terrific creation Like a certain other far famous detective he seeks and processes clues and makes deductions methodically though he's no Sherlock clone Each new piece he works out brings him enthusiasm even exuberance He shares them with his friend the narrator in his own time usually only saying he's discovered something leaving narrator and reader panting for They travel he tracks people others insert themselves the smallest details matter As the painter has created Azoth Shimada's book uses lovely bits from other genres But it always stays in the locked room zone Reading it was a very pleasurable experience and I look forward to devouring the other Shimada that's been translated into English and which also features Kiyoshi Murder in the Crooked House Because I've had difficulty reading during Pandemic I'm very tempted to read it next but given that there are only two Shimadas translated into English to date and that there's possibly going to be a second wave of covid 19 I'm going to try and save Murder in the Crooked House to savor in case of future locked in history

  4. says:

    The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada was born under the Sun Sign Aries in 1981; its original name is Senseijutsu Satsujinjiken which can be roughly translated as Zodiac Murder Magic Those born Aries are Cardinal signs whose element is Fire; they are ruled by Mars The color of Aries is REDAries is the first sign of the zodiac and its Cardinal uality further signals a beginning the start of something innovative and new And such is Tokyo Zodiac Murders or at least it was in 1981 something new The first novel by its author and the first novel to reignite an interest in Golden Age style locked room mysteries that had fallen out of fashion with the Japanese public and Japanese writers of murder mysteries Its nature is that of a puzzle logical complicated yet precise and one that can be figured out by its readers It is tricky but does not cheat; it can indeed be figured out Although it was not figured out by this readerFire is an element with strong masculine energy and it easily neglects the feminine principles within At first this appears to be the case with Tokyo Zodiac Murders which details the murder and dismemberment of seven women all related all apparently murdered according to their nefarious father's demented plan A masculine plan that obliterates living women in order to create a puppet doll out of their various parts; a doll that will become his personal goddess But is this truly the case? As the reader reads on they may learn that the element Fire is perhaps not as influential as one might think at least with this particular ArianMars rules both Aries and Scorpio; it has charge over our first scream and our last breath Mars is symbolic of our unconscious animalistic nature one we often don’t give freedom to Restrictions in our primarily sexual expression of energy will lead to inhibitions of all sorts and accumulation of anger and frustration below our surface beyond the face we show to the world Perhaps the killer within Tokyo Zodiac Murders should have sought to create balance when engaging with its Mars natureThis reader was born under the Sun Sign Virgo Alas there is little compatibility between these signs Although the often obsessive compulsive Virgoan nature had some respect for the carefully ordered and intricately pieced together parts of this puzzle in the end it was simply that a complex little puzzle Lacking humanity and focused on its puzzle pieces than on human psychology it therefore also lacked a human anchor to capture and then hold this Virgo's interest It was obviously and rather strenuously uite pleased with itself which is an unseemly display to the modest Virgo It lacked the grounding in reality that an Earth Sign such as Virgo reuires as a base before climbing to imaginative heights or burrowing to the morbid lower depths Although the lack of affect gave the first chapter a certain appeal it is the creepily cheerful father's final note detailing his horrific plan eventually the novel's overall shallowness made this Virgo uite bored Aries is rarely a boring sign but clearly there are exceptions to that rule

  5. says:

    Pre war Japan A deranged artist called Heikichi Umezawa claims to be possessed by the Devil He plans one final masterwork the creation of Azoth the supreme woman How to make her? Chop up the bodies of his six daughters selecting their most perfect parts and stitching the pieces together into a whole But before he can begin he’s brutally murdered A few days later the six daughters are also killed and their bodies chopped up per Umezawa’s plan Who killed Umezawa? Who killed the six girls? And if Azoth the supreme woman was created where is she? 40 years pass and astrologer detective Kiyoshi Mitarai is joined by our narrator Ishioka to solve the mystery in a week who was behind the Tokyo Zodiac Murders? Soji Shimada’s detective novel is pretty good for the first half pretty bad for the second While I enjoyed the first half it’s a bit artlessly written the Holmesian Mitarai and the Watson esue Ishioka are literally sat in a room telling the reader through their discourse the details of the crime But it’s morbidly interesting stuff and the locked room mystery aspect to it is tantalising Things get a bit bogged down in the second half as Shimada tries to bring it all together Mitarai and Ishioka separate while the reader is stuck with Ishioka as he follows numerous red herrings waiting for Mitarai to reappear and tell us whodunit And when he does he irritatingly milks the attention for all its worth in the final uarter stopping and starting to gloat Shimada doesn’t help by literally intruding the narrative twice to encourage the reader to try and figure it out themselves That’s because Tokyo Zodiac is part of the honkaku “authentic” genre of detective fiction where the clues are laid out in the text which supposedly gives the reader all they need to solve the case themselves Diagrams maps etc pepper the book Except given the utterly convoluted explanation I’m not sure that’s entirely true of this novel I didn’t spend any time thinking about it and just went with the story And then it turns out to be an unsatisfying reveal anyway I didn’t hate the novel because the first half effortlessly held my attention but it’s not a great detective story for the weak conclusion Still The Tokyo Zodiac Murders isn’t a bad creepy mystery story that some crime fans might enjoy I’d recommend it with the caveat to lower expectations going in to maybe get out of it

  6. says:

    uoted from ‘The Tokyo Zodiac Murders’“FOREWORDTo the best of my knowledge the case of the serial murders which took place in Japan in 1936 popularly known as ““The Tokyo Zodiac Murders”” is one of the most peculiar and most elusive mysteries in the history of crimeReaders may like to attempt to unravel the puzzle themselves just as we my good friend Kiyoshi Mitarai and I set out to do on that fateful day in the spring of 1979I can assure you that I have included all the necessary clues the same clues we had to work with Kazumi Ishioka”Kiyoshi Mitarai is the Sherlock Holmes of this Japanese novel and Kazumi Ishioka is his Watson Mitarai is an astrologer and Ishioka is a freelance illustrator They both had studied art in college An amusing ?? fact is Kiyoshi Mitarai means ‘clean toilet’ in Chinese a revelation which the author tosses in on page 118 I think this is a hint why Kiyoshi naturally brilliant is also an original thinker He appears to have had a bad relationship with his father who named him clearly an impetus for many iconoclasts including me Kiyoshi is moody upbeat one day depressed the next He is coming out of a prolonged depression and Kazumi decides he is going to cheer his buddy upKazumi wants to solve the Tokyo Zodiac murders which really are three linked murder cases These murders are famous in Japan in the plot and many books and magazine stories have been printed for decades guessing what could have happened The first incident was the murder of patriarch Heikichi Umezawa on February 26 1936 found in a room mysteriously locked from the inside The second was of Heikichi's stepdaughter Kazue Kanemoto found a week later in her own home The six cut up bodies which became known as the Azoth murders were discovered during the next year at various locations All six dead women were daughters step daughters and nieces of Heikichi The name Azoth came from an insane letter found next to Heikichi's body which detailed a mad scheme of his to create a goddess from the flesh of the six women cutting off those parts he believed their best bits to form the goddess Azoth The letter was dated five days before his deathHow did Heikichi kill his relatives after he died? Was his death faked? If he really was murdered how was the murder done in a room locked from the inside? Who killed the women and Heikichi if Heikichi wasn't the murderer? Why? In author Soji Shimada's story within a story within a story readers are challenged to solve the murder mystery before Kiyoshi tells all We readers learn every fact and clue of the cases along with the amateur sleuths Just before the chapter Kiyoshi tells how and why it all happened the author stops the tale with a letter to readers on page 231Gentle ReaderUnusual as it may be for the author to intrude into the proceedings like this there is something I should like to say at this pointAll of the information reuired to solve the mystery is now in your hands and in fact the crucial hint has been provided already I wonder if you noticed it? My greatest fear is that I might already have told you too much about the case But I dared to do that both for the sake of fairness of the game andof course to provide you with a little helpLet me throw down the gauntlet I challenge you to solve the mystery before the final chaptersAnd I wish you luckYours sincerelySoji ShimadaThis novel is of a type of mystery which was really popular off and on in past decadesThe Who Done It or as Americans popularized it the Whodunit was often combined with The Locked Room Mystery of the books in the occasional waves of public interest in these novels I first caught were the Philo Vance mysteries Searching through a bin of used books in my local Salvation Army store I picked up The Benson Murder Case I was a teenager and these novels were old fashioned to me Nonetheless I thought they were interesting enough for an occasional readI had always thought these 'locked door' mystery conventions were either of British or American invention but it seems the Chinese and even the ancient Greeks Oedipus Rex may have first written stories which could be earlier mysteries of this style with some of these elements reader when I was very young American families used to sit around the single TV set console in the living room and watch TV shows together Sociologists called us “nuclear families” which considering the arguments and physical grappling between tots and siblings with the resulting parental grappling of the kids separating them saying “If you kids can’t watch TV without fighting then all of you will go to your rooms without any TV NOW” was apt of a description than the sociologists meantOnce families stopped going nuclear and settled into the peaceful uiet of ‘being’ a nuclear family in the manner sociologists actually meant ie the basic community of mom dad and children sitting peaceably together enjoying each other's company most Americans would watch TV in one room at night after dinner TV networks and producers knowing this often hoped to attract such viewers by TV shows considered 'family entertainment' These type of shows are very rare today imhoThankfully since my family was into going nuclear than being nuclear I had my own apartment and TV set in 1975 One of the family entertainment TV shows which enchanted me was ‘The Ellery ueen Mysteries’ The viewer was given the opportunity and a minute to solve the episode's mystery during the show Jim Hutton in the character of Ellery ueen would turn to the audience after about 45 minutes of the hour long show breaking the fourth wall and ask us did we figure it out? Every fact and clue of the murder had been aired during the preceding minutes I admit I had a slight crush on Jim Hutton so in not paying attention to the mystery closely I never solved these TV mysteries that is my excuse Anyway'The Tokyo Zodiac Murders' is a homage to this old classic form of mystery novel especially popular in the 1920's Every convention common to these novels is included in this book locked door murder astrological signs strongly hinting at a paranormal element psuedo and real scientific methodology a zillion possible suspects detailed drawings of the murder scenes and a genius amateur sleuth who figures it all out The Asian version of the early 1920's detective story has violence and gore but nonetheless they are obviously as satisfying to read as the sedate polite English versions of this mystery format I have read

  7. says:

    This novel is being released under the new ‘Pushkin Vertigo’ imprint – which aims to re release international crime classics written in the years between the 1920’s and 1970’s “The Tokyo Zodiac Murders” is the first of over two dozen novels featuring Kiyoshi Mitarai and is written in the popular Japanese Honkaku subgenre of mysteries; very much focused on plotting and clues and where the reader is drawn into participating in solving the crime before the detective In some ways this book reminded me of mysteries I have read from the 1920’s such as “The Cask” by Freeman Wills Croft where you are almost walked through the crime clue by clue As such “The Tokyo Zodiac Murders” appeared a little dry at first but I was soon thoroughly immersed in the novel and really fascinated by the plot and the characters The title of the books comes from a series of murders which took place in 1936 and remained unsolved when the narrator of the book Kazumi Ishioka tells his friend Kiyoshi Mitarai about them The murders involve an artist named Heikichi Umezawa who believed that he was possessed by the devil and who dreamt of creating the perfect woman – ‘Azoth’ – by killing six young women his daughters and nieces and combining their body parts However Umezawa is murdered in his studio and the murders took place after his deathThis is a classic locked door mystery and involves Ishioka and Mitarai discussing the murders in 1979 before setting out to solve them As I mentioned before the first part of the book involves Ishioka relating what happened in some detail and can come across as a little dry However this book does become very engaging There are delightful digressions into other subjects such as the novels of Sherlock Holmes and dashes across the country to follow up clues; as well as exhortations from the author himself to try to beat the fictional detectives and solve the crimeThis is a charming read and the Pushkin Vertigo series looks very promising indeed I look forward to reading – both from Pushkin Vertigo and from this author Soji Shimada Lastly I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review

  8. says:

    This is my second novel where the author challenge readers explicitly to guess the culprit The first one is The Egyptian Cross Mystery And coincidentally this novel is my first Soji Shimada's novel that I've ever read After read this novel I wish there are other Soji Shimada's novel translated into EnglishHighly recommended for readers who want to guess the culprit Although I found some minor clues seems useful if the reader knows pop culture of Japanese at mid 1930 era but the essence of the trick is a classic for me

  9. says:

    The author Soji Shimada has been known to readers as The King Of Dismemberment in the realm of Japanese crimedetective novels it is his first long detective novel and it is damn impressive the story has its flaws but I'm still impressedI look forward to re read this book some day

  10. says:

    Oh my This is probably the best mystery novel I've read all year it is the kind of book that I hope to find every time I pick up a new mystery I do have to admit to a fondness for Japanese authors especially mystery writers and this particular book is an example of why I have to find other works by this author in translation if they exist I could NOT put this book down at all once I startedThe story begins some time back in the 1930s and its focal point is a bizarre case known as the Tokyo Zodiac Murders In the last will testament of an artist under the influences of astrology and alchemy he sets forth his plan to create the perfect womanby killing off female relatives including his daughters to combine the best parts of all of them in his creation The murders occurred but this happened after the artist was found dead in his studio locked from the outside The clues left little to go on and solving the horrifying case became an obsession for many over the last decades One detective who is also a fortune teller decides to take it on and solve it where others have failed With the help of his friend a fan of detective fiction he tries to do what so many have attempted and failed over the a 40 year period of timeAn amazing book one that will totally occupy you as you read There are a number of possibilities that present themselves as the two friends delve into the past The characterization is very well done the writing is excellent and the mystery itself not to mention the solution is nothing like I've ever read before Hooray for a mystery I could really sink my teeth intoI think this one will really appeal to people like myself who enjoy the different take on mysteries provided by Japanese mystery authors and those who enjoy the classic locked room scenario It isn't a mystery for cozy readers or readers who want an easy solution this reuires the reader's participation the entire way Also if alchemy and astrology aren't your thing then you may want to skip itAn excellent mystery I enjoy finding these little gems now and then Most highly recommended

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