Pushkin Vertigo has brought out the English translation of yet another Japanese crime classic by the queen of Japanese crime fiction, Masako Togawo. 'The Lady Killer' was originally published in Japanese in the 1960's and the action is seti in Tokyo of the 60 s.
Ichiro Honda is a hardworking professional and a dutiful husband by the day and a hardcore womaniser by the night. He never 'uses' his female companions for his pleasure more than once.The pervert that he is, also has the habit of maintaining a 'Hunter's Log' which depicts graphic details of his sexual conquests. However, his preys soon start getting killed one by one and soon, the hunter becomes the hunted.This is the basic premise of the book. Agreed, a couple of books have come out with similar themes later (Masako Togawo's work originally came out in the 1960 s) in various languages, however what makes 'The Lady Killer' a must read work is the smart writing and intelligent plot twists ( due credit goes to the translator as well who has made sure that the soul of the work is not lost in translation).
The writing is taut and as I mentioned before ,though the book was originally written almost 50 years back, the plot still feels fresh and contemporary. Infact, I found it quite surprising that a woman writer had thought about Vaginismus (which is considered a taboo topic even in this era) and was bold enough to make it as one of the core plot points in her work .Obviously, Masako Togawo's thought process was very well ahead of her times!
While the first half of the book is mostly about Honda's sexual pursuits, it's towards the latter half that the book that it turns to a criminal investigation/procedural. On the whole, 'The Lady Killer' is an engaging thriller with a brilliant twist towards the end.I'm giving it a 3.5 out of 5.