The Sleeping Dragon

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The Sleeping Dragon
Author: Miyuki Miyabe
Specifications: ISBN  978-4101369143
626 pages
10.6 x 15.0 cm / 4.2 x 5.9 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 1991
Awards: Mystery Writers of Japan Award, 1992
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On the night of a typhoon, magazine reporter Shogo Kosaka is on his way by car to Tokyo, when he sees a cyclist stranded by a flat and offers him a ride. He learns that the boy is in high school and his name is Shinji Inamura. Almost right away they come upon an accident in which a child has fallen into a manhole missing its lid and died. As Kosaka swings into reporting mode, Shinji begins telling him surprising details about the accident. He then explains that he possesses psychic powers: he has the ability to read people's minds and can discern what has happened in a place just by touching an object at the scene. Kosaka is dubious, suspecting it is some kind of trick, but becomes increasingly perplexed by things Shinji tells him that turn out to be true.

Kosaka then receives a visit from Naoya Oda, 20, who claims Kosaka is being duped by Shinji and the whole thing is a trick. More confused than ever, Kosaka begins investigating both Shinji and Naoya. As he talks to people who know them, he becomes aware of the challenges faced by those who have special abilities, as well as the loneliness they suffer. The two are friends who originally got to know each other through the psychic powers they share, but they disagree on what to do with those powers: Shinji believes they should use them for the good of society, while Naoya believes they should keep them under wraps.

Meanwhile, from even before he met the two youths, Kosaka has been periodically receiving threatening notes. Then a woman he had been engaged to three years before, Saeko Kawasaki, is kidnapped, and the abductor designates Kosaka as the person he wants for a negotiator. As the tense back-and-forth with the kidnapper progresses, something doesn't sit right with Kosaka about the entire incident. The kidnapping is in fact a charade mounted by Saeko's husband and his illicit lover as part of a plot to kill Saeko. When Shinji "reads" this truth about the kidnapping, he persuades Naoya to help him rescue Saeko. Kosaka no longer doubts their psychic abilities, and he even begins communicating telepathically with the two himself. In the end, Naoya dies from the injuries he sustains while helping rescue Saeko from where she is being held.

While the ending is not entirely happy, the narrative is brightened by the easy give-and-take between Kosaka and his reporter friends as well as by the more cheerful suspense surrounding where the relationship between Kosaka and Nanae Mimura, a trusted friend of Naoya's, might be headed.