Book: The Informer by Akimitsu Takagi

Interesting Japanese detective novel

Akimitsu Takagi
The Informer
Soho Press, 1999 (originally published in Japan in 1965 as Mikkokusha)
ISBN: 1-56947-155-X
257 pages

The Informer is a detective novel, but since it was written in Japan in the 1960s, it's rather different from recent American detective novels. The story is set in Tokyo and the narration of first half of the book follows Shigeo Segawa, a disgraced stockbroker who also failed in business for himself. He needs work and is offered a sales job with an unusually generous salary. Of course, it's not really sales that he's going to be doing. The narration in the second half of the book mostly follows Saburo Kirishima, a prosecutor who is investigating first one and then two murders.

The book's plot is interesting and inventive and the reader does get some tastes of Japanese culture along the way. Alas, there's little of the atmosphere of 1960s Tokyo in the book. Mr Takagi's original readers would have probably have had little need for that, but I'd have enjoyed it. As a detective novel set in a different culture, the book is well worth reading though it isn't thrilling by modern standards.

Mr Takagi's translator, Sadako Muzuguchi, has done a fine job, but I believe that she is not a native speaker of English. A final pass by a native speaker might have resulted in a translation that was occasionally a trifle smoother.

Posted: Mon - June 18, 2007 at 05:28 PM   Main   Category: