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Japanese Impossible Crime Mysteries

Page history last edited by jeanne 13 years, 8 months ago

A list of Japanese Impossible Crime Mysteries from Fei Wu.


I translated roughly, hopefully it will be helpful.

The lists only include impossible crime stories; the authors have also written many non-impossible crime mysteries, not mentioned here.


Shimada Soji's impossible crime works:



Zodiac Murder Magic, 1981

(Senseijutsu satsujinjiken, known as The Tokyo Zodiac Murders in its English translation (published 2004).)


Crime in the Inclined House, 1982

A Woman Without Face, 1984

Lie to Murder, 1984

Souseki and London Mummy Murder Case, 1984

Sunset Crane 2/3 Murder Case, 1985 (An incredible ingenious trick I think)

Silk Mermaid, 1985

Splendid Planning, God Moved, 1989

Crystal Pyramid, 1991 (A man was drowning in a crystal pyramid locked room, which is 30 meters high)

Faint, 1992

ATOPOS, 1993

Case of Lieing Dragon Kiosk, 1996

Case of Russian Ghost Warship, 2001

Demon's Game, 2002


Below are short stories:


Running Corpse

Teen Chat

Digital Lock

No Crack

Locked room Murder on Slope-D

Grecian Dog

Painter Murder

Story of a Knight

Dancing Disease

Report of Recent Situation

Locked room of P

Bamboo Sheets


Akimitsu Takagi's impossible crime works:


The Tattooed murder, 1948

(Known as The Tattoo Murder Case in its English translation.)


The Drama Mask Murder

A Family with Curse

Shooter of Magic Bullet

Open the Door to Death

Mysterious Door

Gray Lady

Dead Angle of Empery

Locked Room of Fox

Kamidu Kyousuke's Challenge

Kamidu Kyousuke's Forecast

Snow White

Spirit Woman's Inhabit

Locked Room of Continued 13

Lady of the Moon World

Lady without Shadow

Crime in my Highschool times

Violet Panic

Room of Mirror

Bride of Crete

Witness in Fourth Dimension

Gray Track

Shadow Man

Vanishing Corpse


Nikaido Reijin's impossible crime works:

(known as the Japanese John Dickson Carr)


Family of Vampire (challenged JDC's tennis court locked room in his masterpiece: Family of Vampire and the solution is much better and ingenious)

"The Tragedy of Y" (Short Story) (A man was killed in a locked room which is located on an isolated island. He left a dying message, an inclined "Y", before being killed. I guess it is the farthest distance murder ever written in books...in another word, the spatially largest murder location in a mystery that ever got "locked".)


Other Japanese Golden Age style writers:


What I want to say is, regretfully, besides the titles I summarized there are so

many other excellent works following GAD tradition.


Such as the Japanese Ellery Queen: Arisugawa Arisu who writes the Country series.


Norizuki Rintaro who writes the Tragedy series.

(His short story "An Urban Legend Puzzle" (2001) can be found in the anthology Passport to Crime: Finest Mystery Stories from International Crime Writers (2007), edited by Janet Hutchings. It also appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 2004.)


The conclusion comes: many are waiting to be explored by keen-eyed publishers.



French writer Paul Halter is enjoying considerable success in Taiwan, China and Japan, where the approach to detective fiction seems to be 180 degrees out of phase with the Anglo-Saxon world, with its apparent disdain of what it contemptuously calls the `cozy'. It is instructive to read the words of the Japanese `new orthodox school' (shin honkaku ha) which was founded in the 1980's in order to advocate restoration of the classic rules of detective fiction: "To us, detective fiction is a kind of intellectual game: a logical game that avoids readers' emotional feelings about detectives or authors. So we're not interested in the once popular `social school' realism: Female employee murdered in a deluxe hotel suite; criminal police's tireless investigation eventually brings in the murdering boss-cum-boyfriend -- all cliché. Political scandals of corruption and ineptitude; tragedies of distortion of modern society; these are also out of date. The most appropriate materials for detective fiction, whether currently fashionable elsewhere or not, are famous detectives, grand mansions, suspicious residents, bloody murders, puzzling situations, earth-shattering conclusions . . . The more improbable the better. The point is to enjoy the pleasure in the world of reasoning. But intellectual prerequisites must be completely met." -- Ayatsuji Yukito.


Posted by John Pugmire.


"An Illustrated Guide to the Locked Room"


In this Japanese book, a founder member of the "new orthodox" school, Arisu Arisugawa (using the name `Alice' for some reason) summarizes 20 Western and 20 Japanese locked room classics, each story accompanied by an incredibly detailed 2-page illustration by Kazuichi Isoda.


The 20 Japanese works, 7 shorts and 13 novels, are listed below by date of publication. The English titles are, of course, rough approximations and the comments on the side are Fei's own observations.


1925 Edogawa Rampo `Murder on the D Slope' (short)

Father of Japanese detective story

1930 Kouga Saburou `Spider' (short)

1933 Oguri Mushitaro `The Perfect Crime' (short)

1935 Osaka Keikichi `The Ghost in the Beacon (short).

Top classical writer pre WWII

1946 Yokomizo Seishi `The Honjin Murder Case'.

The original `Japanese JDC'

1946 Akimitsu Takagi `The Tattoo Murder Case'.

One of the top 3 post WWII writers

1948 Amagi Ichi `Crime in High Tenera' (short)

1952 Sakaguchi Ango `The Red People'

1954 Ayukawa Tetsuya `The Red Locked Room'(short).

One of top post WWII writers

1972 Akagawa Jirou `Too Many Famous Detectives'

1975 Yamamura Misa `Coffin of Flowers'. (Available in French translation.)

The Queen of Japanese classic crime.

1977 Awasaka Tsumao `Horobo's God' (short).

Magician by trade

1978 Sasazawa Saho `Locked Room of Proposal'

1988 Nikaidou Reihito `Panic in Werewolf City'.

4,000 pages long

1988 Orihara Ichi `Disappearance into Thin Air'.

Brilliant and unique narrative trick

1990 Abiko Takemaru `Puppet Reasoning Under Tent'.

One of top 4 current writers

1992 Norizuki Rintaro `The Dangerous Green Door'.

Another of top 4 (Tragedy series)

1992 Kasai Kiyoshi `The Philosopher's Locked Room'.

Disciple of Soji Shimada

1992 Komori Kentarou `Locked Room in Norway City'.

Trick defies imagination

1996 Mori Hirotsugu `Perfect Inside'.

Brand new locked room trick


Manga (Japanese Comic Books) with Impossible Crimes


Manga are Japanese "comic books" or "graphic novels", that often tell long, complex stories.

At least two series feature detective tales, and sometimes involve impossible crimes.


Detective Conan ("Case Closed" in English)


Well-structured and competently done.


Detailed accounts of Detective Conan (Meitantei Conan) can be found at:





The Kindaichi Case Files


At least 20 of The Kindaichi Case Files have been translated into English.


The Kindaichi Case Files (Kinda'ichi Shōnen no Jikenbo) have sold over 60 million volumes in Japan, and have been adapted into both live action and animated (anime) TV series and movies. For a detailed study, see:



All feature classical detective situations, are fairly clued, and many feature impossible crimes.

The Kindaichi Case files are quite a revelation, with the clueing and build-up one associates with a classic detective story. It didn't hurt that more than 12 of the series were locked-room.

The Kindaichi Case Files, in fact, is a series of very well constructed impossible crime stories hiding behind a rather superficial and frivolous style.


The Kindaichi books are novel length – over 200 pages long – and some are very ingenious. Each volume is around 250 pages long which gives time for clues to be planted and the fast moving plot to twist and turn incessantly before the detective calls all the suspects in for the classic Golden Age denouement.


The locked-room puzzles are mostly original (except for one issue which copied the basic idea from The Tokyo Zodiac Murders but then wove in some clever variations) and very well done, with thoroughly detailed graphic explanations.


Detective School Q


Tantei Gakuen Kyū (known in English as "Detective School Q") is another manga series, that has been adapted into an anime TV series. It reportedly includes impossible crimes. See:




John Pugmire


Taiwanese Impossible Crime Stories


A list from neoellery.


Ladies and gentlemen, for those interested in impossible crime

stories in Asia, here is a list of Taiwanese locked-room mysteries.

Unfortunately, few are yet available in English.




1994 Yu Sin-Le 'A Travel of Detection' (double solutions)


2001 Guang Jheng-Tang 'The Angel is Crying on the Clock Tower' (a

clock tower locked room)


2004 Ji-Cing 'Sorcery Delusion' (a story full of black magic, two

impossible situations, one concerning a walking headless body,

another a man escaping from a locked house)


Lan-Siao 'Mislocation: The Tapeworm Murder Case' (the killer

disappears from a large building with all exits guarded and watched

by people and cameras)


2005 Ji-Cing 'ESP Murderous Gene' (two impossible crimes, in the

first the killer leaves no footprints in the crime scene and in the

second the body is placed on a high platform and no ladder is found)


Lan-Siao 'Light and Shadow' (a man killed in an underground maze

with the only exit guarded)


Lan-Siao 'The Blanket Flower Murder Case' (a medical school student

is murdered in the anatomy room triple-locked: a padlock door, a

computer-controlled door, and an iron gate)


2006 Lin Sih-Yan 'Deaths in the Mansion of Rain' (four gruesome

locked-room murders, the first victim beheaded in a guarded locked

room with his head vanished, the second strangled in a tennis court

but no footprints left, the third dying from falling from the ceiling

in a small locked room, and the fourth killed in a room barred from

the inside)


Chen Jia-Jhen 'The Palmar Drama Murders' (victim killed in a locked

room by a killer disguised as a Taiwanese puppet)


2007 Sih-Hao 'Crime Expert' (the victim receives a death fore-notice

and is killed in a basement guarded by the police)


2008 Leng-Yan 'God's Forbidden Zone' (victim killed in a wooden

hut in the center of a paddy field, no traces of leaving the scene



Jiang Siao-Li 'Gray Loneliness'


Short Stories (published in magazines but uncollected, or collected in anthologies):


Charlie Chen 'The Locked Room Mystery'


Chen Jia-Jhen 'The Blood-red Puppet' (a man murdered in a locked

room by a female ghost)


Chen Jia-Jhen 'The Blood-red Street Scene' (murder in a drama

hall, the murder weapon vanished from the crime scene)


Hu Bo-Yuan 'The Open Locked Room' (murder in a guarded

convenience store)


Jhang Bo-Jyun 'The Dark Fire' (an impossible arson murder)


Jhe-Yi 'The Scarlet Love Letter' (impossible disappearance from a

locked room)


Ling-Che 'The Antigravity Murder Case'


Ling-Che 'The Case of Disappearance from the Train'


Ling-Che 'The Haunted Crossroad' (a motorcycle and a car at high

speed are about to crash together at the crossroads but miraculously

pass through each other; this one has been translated into Japanese

and published in Japan)


Li Bo-Cing 'Mystery of Red Cloud' (locked-room murder in a hut

for mountain climbers)


Lan-Siao 'Death of the Senior High School Repeater' (a student

killed in a locked bathroom)


Lin Sih-Yan 'The Apparition in the Badminton Court' (a body

appears in a locked badminton court which no one could have possibly

got in)


Lin Sih-Yan 'The Invisible Locked Room' (impossible disappearance

from a guarded room)


Lin Sih-Yan 'Miracle on Christmas Eve' (a miracle performed by

Father Christmas; the framework of the story is similar to The Flower

Girl by Paul Halter, but with a completely different trick)


Leng-Yan 'The Corpse that Searches for Its Head' (murder in a

locked lavatory)


Mr. Pets 'I, Hybrid' (science fiction background setting, a robot

killed in a locked room)


Mr. Pets 'Report of Malice Aforethought' (impossible escape from

a guarded building)


Sih-Ting 'Death Sentence Tonight' (a man strangled to death in a

guarded and locked prison cell)


Wun-Shan 'Mammon' (impossible kidnapping, written in Chinese by a

Canadian, but published in Taiwan)


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