Alcatraz Visions

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Alcatraz Visions
Author: Soji Shimada
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163816609
537 pages
14.3 x 19.2 cm / 5.7 x 7.7 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2012
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What if the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States could have been prevented? In this blockbuster entertainment, one of the giants of mystery writing in Japan boldly imagines how history might have been altered.

The story begins on November 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C., where a prostitute is found dead in the woods. The body of the middle-aged woman is hanging from the branch of a beech tree, with her genital area hacked open and her intestines spilling out between her legs. Though initially thought to be a gruesome murder, there are no signs of rape, and the cause of death is determined to be a heart attack rather than violence. Then a second woman's body is found in the same vicinity, also hanging from a tree. This time the woman is identified as a college student, and she has a broken pelvis, part of which has been sawed off, with a pencil inserted in the break. She is determined to have died in a traffic accident. Soon the police arrest Bernard Stretcher, a graduate student in paleontology at Georgetown University, for mutilation of the corpses. Stretcher confesses, and after his trial is sent to serve a ten-year sentence on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

Since becoming a federal penitentiary in 1934, the maximum high-security prison on Alcatraz has been where the country's most dangerous criminals are sent, and there has been no successful escape from the island to date. In July 1940, less than a month after Stretcher arrives on the island, two inmates who have long been plotting an escape effectively force Stretcher to join them in a breakout during an intense thunderstorm. Although their attempt fails, federal officials recognize Stretcher's acute intellect, and arrange an extralegal dispensation for him to be released into the military, where he ultimately becomes a bombardier on one of the B29s carrying an atomic bomb . . .

Against the backdrop of the German invasion of Poland, which marked the beginning of the Second World War in Europe, and of subsequent events that inexorably drew the United States into that war, the narrative follows the checkered career of a man buffeted by the turbulent seas of his era through countless twists and turns. An adaptation to the big screen seems sure to follow.

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