The Rope Artist

Fuminori Nakamura


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Soho Press
4 May 2023
ISBN: 9781641294140
288 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Sam Bett

Two detectives narrate the aftermath of the murder of a bondage teacher and provide an intimate look into the darkest corners of the human mind in this chilling new mystery from the master of Japanese literary noir.

Two detectives. Two identical women. One dead body—rapidly becoming two, then three, then four. All knotted up in Japan’s underground BDSM scene and kinbaku, a form of rope bondage which bears a complex cultural history of spirituality, torture, cleansing, and sacrifice. As Togashi, a junior member of the police force, investigates the murder of a kinbaku instructor, he finds himself unable to resist his own private transgressive desires. In contrast, Togashi’s colleague Hayama is morally upright to a fault, with a stalwart commitment to the truth. A Sherlock Holmesian detective with nearly superhuman powers of deduction, Hayama notices a dangerous measure of darkness within Togashi and embarks on his own parallel investigation, which soon spirals out of control.

Unflinching in its flayed-raw treatment of identity, violence, sexuality, power, the occult, and the divine, Fuminori Nakamura’s explosive, complex new mystery is both viscerally painful and unexpectedly hopeful—plus, intriguingly pulpy. As is the case with all Nakamura’s work, The Rope Artist has a twisted, tangled plot, and functions as a profoundly philosophical treatise on the most tantalizing, most dangerous elements of the human psyche.