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Famous Mystery Writers and Their Characters: The Rampo Edition

February 02, 2016

Hello again, welcome to the third installment of Famous Mystery Writers! Today we are going to take a peek into the world of a mystery writer and his characters from a completely different part of the world. Tarō Hirai, better known by the pseudonym Edogawa Rampo, hailed from Japan, and his literature was heavily influenced by Poe and Doyle, who are featured in my previous Famous Mystery Writers selections.

He studied economics at Waseda university, and graduated in 1916. Rampo took up a number of odd jobs to make ends meet, until he was finally published in 1923. This first piece was in Shin Seinen, a popular magazine written largely for an adolescent audience. He was the first Japanese author to feature in this magazine with a detective story. Rampo was not the first Japanese mystery writer, being precedented by authors such as Ruikō Kuroiwa, Kidō Okamoto, Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Haruo Satō, and Kaita Murayama. He was however, the first to gain major mainstream popularity with his attention to detail, and mystery solving methods that were very close to the current Japanese culture.

Rampos character, Kogoro Akechi, is definitely Rampos interpretation of a Japanese Sherlock, while still maintaining his own set of eccentricities and genius. For example, unlike Sherlock, Akechi has a wife, and an adopted son who helps him solve crimes. He also dresses fastidiously, where Sherlock has a tendency to be a bit slovenly, especially in his home.

Then again, echoing Sherlock’s penchant for smoking a pipe, Akechi smokes Egyptian cigarettes while brooding over a case. Like Sherlock’s Moriarty, he also has a nemesis- The Fiend with Twenty Faces, which he comes up against several times in several different novels. Also similar to Sherlock who sticks to London for his cases, Akechi spends most of his time in his home city of Tokyo, and utilizes the Boy Detective Club, a knockoff of Rampo’s the ‘Baker Street Irregulars’.

Thanks for reading another edition of Famous Mystery Writers and Their Characters! The Murder Mystery Company loves a good detective, and we’re always on the prowl for new characters to write about! Leave a comment below and let us know who you want to read about next!

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