THE LADY KILLER
by Masako Togawa
A dizzying tale of lust and murder, from one of Japan's greatest mystery writers.
A hunter prowls the night spots of Shinjuku
But he's the one walking into a trap...
Ichiro Honda leads a double life: by day a devoted husband and a diligent worker, by night he moves through the shadow world of Tokyo's cabaret bars and nightclubs in search of vulnerable women to seduce and then abandon. But when a trail of bodies seems to appear in his wake, the hunter becomes the prey and Ichiro realises he has been caught in a snare. Has he left it too late to free himself before time runs out?
In the hands of the masterful Masako Togawa things are never as they seem. It’s Japan, 1963, and Ichiro Honda is experiencing his own swinging sixties. He’s a good-looking, deep-voiced computer specialist who works hard in Tokyo during the week, living in a hotel, and visits his rich wife at the weekends, seemingly a devoted husband. However, he’s troubled and has learnt to find solace in the arms of women. Honda has a way with them. Fluent in English, this charmer even has a bolt hole where he can take his conquests then, after one encounter, that’s it, he cuts them off.
The book opens with Keiko, a pregnant 19-year-old falling to her death. Her elder sister, desperate to find out who Keiko met with six months ago, is on Honda’s case. And she’s not the only one. The police are onto him, after three of his ‘victims’ wind up dead, and evidence is pointing his way. Honda has a book, his Huntsman’s Log, in which he records all his encounters and what thought of them: the wheres, whats and whathaveyous. Now the huntsman has become the hunted. He must now rely on an elderly lawyer to keep him a free man as the second half of the book concerns the legal investigation.
A man of many disguises, Honda is an interesting, tortured, complex character. Togawa doesn’t waste a page and there’s a belter of a twist waiting in the book's finale.
About Masako Togawa:
Masako Togawa (1931-2016) was one of Japan's foremost writers of crime fiction. Born in Tokyo, she worked as a cabaret performer before beginning to write crime fiction backstage, during her breaks. Her debut thriller The Master Key (also available from Pushkin Vertigo) won Japan's prestigious Edgowa Rampo Prize, and Togawa went on to become a hugely successful author, while continuing to lead a colourful parallel life as a singer, actress, feminist, nightclub owner and gay icon.