Akechi Kogoro, detective extraordinaire.
In Japan, this is a name that fires the hearts and imaginations of readers young at heart. Cool and sophisticated, Akechi moves effortlessly through the world of Japan in the golden era between the wars, defeating masterminds and saving the day. He has been the hero of Japanese children for generations, and starred in a host of movies.
The stories in this volume predate all of that; his secret origin, if you will. Readers familiar with the exploits of the great detective Akechi Kogoro might have some difficulty recognizing the impeccably dressed and universally respected man of action in the amateur detective, an eccentric twenty-something of little means with disheveled hair and a shabby kimono. The Akechi who appears in this volume is a hobbyist in crime whose identity is not yet fixed either in the eyes of the reading public or in the mind of his creator. Supporting characters such as Akechi's wife and his young assistant have not yet been introduced, and the first confrontation between the great detective and the Fiend with Twenty Faces is still a decade away.
Edogawa Rampo (pseudonym of Hirai Taro, 1894-1965) is the acknowledged grand master of Japan's golden age of crime and mystery fiction. He is also a major writer in the tradition of Japanese Modernism, and exerts a massive influence on the popular and literary culture of today's Japan.