The Locked House of Pythagoras

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine just released its August issue which features Soji Shimada’s ‘The Locked House of Pythagoras’ in the ‘Passport to Crime’ section (See Recommended Reading for other locked room authors published in that section) The recognition was long overdue, for Shimada-san is one of the towering figures of Japanese detective fiction who, more or less single-handedly, re-introduced the Golden Age concepts of the puzzle-plot and fair cluing.

In fact, the translation and adaptation were completed, and the publication approved, over a year ago but the story was held up waiting for a slot. There is only one story per issue in the ‘Passport’ section, which is dedicated to texts originating in a foreign language, so there is a line anyway. However, Japanese stories face an additional hurdle because they tend to be very much longer on average than western stories (5000 words versus 15000), and there isn’t always that much space available in a given issue. That’s where the adaptation comes in. Soji’s gifted daughter Yuko did the initial translation and she and I worked together to make the story more compact (10,000 words) without, we hope, losing any of the intrigue and atmosphere of this very ingenious story.

Please join me in congratulating the maestro.

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