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Lending the Key to the Locked Room by Tokuya Higashigawa

 

Overview: Ryuhei, a would-be film director, has just been dumped by his girl friend and his drunken threats to kill her have made him the prime suspect, as she has just been murdered. His alibi is that he was watching a film in his friend’s home movie theatre at the time. Unfortunately, his friend has also been stabbed to death in his bathroom, with the door to the apartment locked with a door chain. Worse still, Ryuhei was the only other person in the apartment at the time, and passed out until the following morning after he discovered his friend’s body. Fearing that the police will not believe him, because the door chain can only be locked from the inside, he panics and runs away. Not a good idea.

 

Lending the Key to the Locked Room by Tokuya Higashigawa Book Chapter One

 

PROLOGUE
 

I shall refrain from providing a map showing the exact location of the city. If you truly need to know, the best I can do is to tell you that it lies east of the Chiba Prefecture and west of the Shinagawa Prefecture.

It was once a thriving port town whose daily catch of squid ranked amongst the most impressive in the whole country.

According to folklore, the armies of squid which would approach the port several times a year were so massive, it would appear as if the sea level itself had risen. They would wave their tentacles to the fishermen, inviting them out to sea to catch them.

Anyone who came home with a grand haul could become rich overnight and find themselves living in a fancy manor on a hill with a fantastic view.

Those were the good old days, when the economy was still thriving.

But the good days did not last forever, and the city and its people have lost their brilliance.

The massive armies of squid have not visited the port once in the last twenty years.

With the dream of becoming a millionaire overnight now a thing of the past, it was only natural that the feverish enthusiasm which once characterised the city would fade as well.

The place has been transformed into a bedroom town for white-collar workers who spend their day in the metropolis, and labourers who work day and night in the industrial district.

But the squid were by no means  the only means of livelihood. Right through the middle of the city runs a Class A river emptying into the Pacific Ocean. No one should underestimate its importance to the citizenry.

Once upon a time, the river transported the squid that had been caught to cities further inland. Ever since that time, the river has been the lifeline of the city, and the image of boats loaded with freight plying their trade has become its symbol .

To this day, the whole city relies completely on the river for water for domestic use, so its importance to the people here cannot be overestimated. Even though the river isn’t as awe-inspiring anymore due to pollution, the people still think proudly of it.

Because the river was mainly used for transporting squid, the inhabitants started calling the river the Ika River, or Squid River. Nobody felt any shame associated with the name. In fact, most people felt quite attached to it.

It was therefore only natural that this area took the name Ikagawa-Chō, or Squid River Town.

Three years ago, due to its rapidly growing population, it became a municipality, and the inhabitants became divided about the name of the new city.

In the end, the side that wanted to respect the historical name won, and that is how Ikagawa-Chō, once a town,  became a proper city.

And that is why it’s now called Ikagawa City.

But it seldom makes the news now. And, although the Japanese name for the city, Ikagawa-shi, sounds awfully like the word ikagawashī or “dubious”,  it is really not that bad a place.

 

 

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