Author: Riku Onda
Specifications: ISBN  978-4043710027
420 pages
106 x 15.2 cm / 4.2 x 6.0 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
Tokyo, 2005
Awards: Mystery Writers of Japan Award, 2006
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The classic police novel A Death in a Town by Hillary Waugh is the inspiration behind this tour de force from Riku Onda, who has been nicknamed the "wizard of nostalgia" for her concern with memory and her talent for evoking worlds that are bygone yet poignantly familiar. The plot revolves around a mass murder that takes place in the historic city of Kanazawa in 1963. On that stormy summer day the Aozawas, owners of a prominent local hospital who are also noted for their philanthropy, host a party for three family members from three different generations?the physician who is currently head of the household, his aged mother, and one of her grandsons?all of whom, strangely enough, have the same birthday. The occasion turns into tragedy, however, when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer's, and the physician's blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. Ten years later, a former neighbor named Makiko who witnessed the incident as a young girl conducts her own investigation for her college senior thesis, putting together a best-selling book that makes no admission as to its degree of veracity. Twenty years after that, an unidentified figure uses the book's account to begin reconstructing the events through interviews with police detectives and others involved at the time. Had someone masterminded the youth's role in the poisoning? Who, if anyone, is lying? When first published, Onda's ambitious narrative experiment created no less a stir than the book's design, which among other effects boasted lines purposely printed at a slant.