Heron and Snow
Author: Kaoru Kitamura
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163280806
261 pages
13.8 x 19.0 cm / 5.5 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2009
Awards: Naoki Prize, 2009
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This is the third in the "Becky-san" series starring the detective duo Eiko Hanamura, a company president's daughter attending the elite Gakushuin Girls' School, and her female chauffeur, Bekku, known as Becky. The three stories in the collection cover the year or so leading up to the February 26 incident, a failed 1936 coup d'etat led by junior army officers who were later sentenced to death. The title story opens in summer 1935 as the cries of a bird that ordinarily stays hidden in the forests are heard on the streets of Tokyo, portending doom; although Eiko knows only girls of the highest social circles, and she herself dwells in wealth and comfort, out in the city poverty is growing and the shadow of war is steadily encroaching on the horizon. Eiko and Becky solve a doppelganger mystery involving a photograph taken by Eiko's classmate Chieko that shows Chieko's fiancé although he is supposed to be away on business in Taiwan.

Meanwhile as graduation approaches and many of her friends are set to be married or engaged, Eiko becomes drawn to a young army officer named Wakatsuki who presents her with a book of poetry. Wishing to give him a watch in return, she telephones the store, but calls up the wrong number and gets the prime minister's residence instead?where Wakatsuki answers after having seized the building as a member of the coup d'etat. In this way a modest everyday puzzle channels into larger currents of history that sweep individuals along in their wake, making for a tale that shows the author at his powerful best.