『人間豹』by Edogawa Rampo

人間豹 (にんげんひょう)
Title: 人間豹 (にんげんひょう)
First published: 1934
Published: 2016
Format: Bunko
Series Number: 8
Page Count: 339
神谷芳雄の恋人でカフェに勤める弘子が、巨大な両眼と敏捷に動く猫属の舌をもつ男・恩田に攫われた。アジトに乗り込んだ神谷は監禁され、壁の隙間から彼女が陵辱され死に到るのを目撃する。それから一年後、江川蘭子という歌姫の恋人ができた。彼女も幾度も狙われ、神谷は明智に助けを乞うが、惨殺されてしまう。ついに魔の手は文代夫人に―。焦燥する名探偵、絶体絶命の愛の物語。

『人間豹』is the 8th book in the Kogoro Akechi collection published by Shueisha.

Review

I enjoyed this novel very much, but it is not as good as 『吸血鬼』or 『魔術師』in my opinion. Most novels of the series have very similar structures and differ mainly by their bad guy, who becomes the main attraction of the story. To make the criminals more and more appealing, Edogawa Rampo often uses features that are close to being supernatural, and the physical appearance of the characters also gives their dimension of horror to the novels.

We find all of these here with the “human-leopard”:

この恩田という怪人物の口は、実に大きかった。もし思い切ってひらいたら、耳まで裂けて、あの骨ばった顔じゅうが、口になってしまうのではないかと疑われた。p15

There is an emphasis on the physical appearance and physical features of this character, and this novel is mainly the confrontation 殺人鬼 vs 名探偵. The novel is a succession of duels between Akechi and the 人間豹 with each character trying to trap the other. The winner is the one who uses the more tricks and is able to see through the other’s plan. We even see them congratulating each other on the phone for their good tricks.

そして、この稀代の殺人鬼と名探偵とは、電話口に声を揃えて、さも面白そうに笑い合うのであった。p192

It was nice to read, but I personally prefer reading a story with a linear plot rather than a succession of tricks, traps and escapes. Furthermore, there was no motive of any sort in this novel (contrary to the previous one), and we are back to a story where the criminal kills people because he is a bad guy.

Furthermore, the mystery behind the existence of the man-leopard is not explained in the novel. I think that even a pseudo scientific explanation could have been nice, but the novel does not provide any.

This being said, it is still enjoyable to follow the adventures of Kogoro Akechi, even more so as we meet the characters of Fumiyo and Kobayashi again, who brings a lot to the series.

Sherlock is the dog of chief inspector Tsunekawa. Like his English counterpart Toby, he helps the detectives with their investigation.

 

Other books by this author:
大金塊|怪人二十面相(だいきんかい|かいじんにじゅうめんそう)9
D坂の殺人事件(ディーざかのさつじんじけん1
一寸法師|何者 (いっすんぼうし|なにもの)2
蜘蛛男 (くもおとこ)3
猟奇の果 (りょうきのはて)4
魔術師 (まじゅつし)5
黄金仮面 (おうごんかめん)6
吸血鬼(きゅうけつき)7
少年探偵団|黒蜥蜴(しょうねんたんていだん|くろとかげ)10