Edogawa Ranpo has become synonymous with Japanese horror and mystery fiction. Using a pen name based off of Edgar Allen Poe, (try saying it three times fast), the author Taro Hirai wrote many short stories and novels as Edogawa Ranpo (sometimes Romanized as Rampo). Like his namesake, Ranpo wrote mostly horror and mystery stories, basically introducing the genres into Japanese literature. While Ranpo has a plethora of material to choose from, here are my recommendations on where to start with his writing and films based off his work.
1932 was an important year in Sino-Japanese relations. In March, the puppet state of Manchukuo was proclaimed, manufactured out of the conquered northeast region of Manchuria. It was also a momentous year for Shanghai when the city became a battleground. It’s on the verge of the undeclared war that we regroup with Inspector Danilov and Detective-Sergeant Strachan in The Killing Time, the fourth book in this series by MJ Lee.
January 1937. On a bitterly cold night, the body of a young Englishwoman is found underneath the Fox Tower in eastern Peking. The murdered girl is Pamela Werner, the daughter of a retired British diplomat and her killer vanished into the darkness. Midnight in Peking by Paul French is the definitive account of this forgotten girl’s murder.
Like Weimar Berlin, Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s has always held a unique appeal for me. It’s got everything: bloodthirsty gangsters, seedy prostitutes, glamorous nightclubs, spies, political intrigue, and a cosmopolitan feel that makes Berlin look like Oklahoma.
It was love at first site. The image of a running man, superimposed over the Golden Gate Bridge, his head slightly turned to look behind him for danger. With a cover like that, I knew I was going to like Japantown by Barry Lancet. Anyone who knows me knows I love thrillers, and stories set in Japan and San Francisco. Imagine my joy when I learned this book is all three.
Tokyo Joe combines three of my favorite things: film noir, a historical setting, and political intrigue. It’s a criminally underrated movie and while it’s not Humphrey Bogart’s best, it still deserves to be rediscovered by audiences.
Goodbye Chairman Mao by Christopher New deals with one of the most fascinating and least known events of modern times; the Lin Piao Incident. For those of you unfamiliar, in September 1971, Mao Tse-tung’s successor, Marshal Lin Piao fled China in route to the Soviet Union but never made it any farther than Mongolia. His plane crashed landed, killing him and everyone on board.
In the early months of 1931, the world was a very different place. There was no Nazi regime in Germany, Japan hadn’t invaded Manchuria, and Stalin was solidifying his power within the Soviet Union. It is on this world stage where That Evening in Shanghai by Paul Thorne is set.
Hugh Cardell, an American engineer finds himself unemployed after a job prospect falls through in China. Deciding to kill some time in the Orient, Hugh spends a few days in Shanghai where he encounters a blonde woman in a green dress, pursued by sinister persons.
Weimar Germany has always held a special place in my imagination, as it has so many elements I find interesting in history and fiction. A weak moderate government, torn between the extreme Left and Right, the constant threat of a military coup, and a seedy underbelly where vice, crime, and corruption scurry, all the byproducts of a failing society. [Read more…] about Babylon Berlin & Weimar Republic Fiction