Summary (Masterplots II: World Fiction Series)
On the surface, The Ruined Map might be seen as a Japanese version of the American “hard-boiled” detective novel such as those authored by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Like Chandler’s Marlowe or Hammett’s Spade, the protagonist of Kb Abe’s novel appears to be, in the beginning of the novel, a tough, smart, naturalistic survivor of the city’s “mean streets” whose task it is to negotiate unfeelingly the labyrinth of crossed paths, conspiracies, and conflicted emotions that typify the genre. Yet, very soon, the reader of The Ruined Map notices that Abe’s investigator is enormously sensitive to the details of the chaotic physical environment of a large, expanding city and obsessed with mapping its intricacies. The occasion for the narrator’s activities in this regard is his employment by a young married woman, Nemuro Haru, who asks the narrator to find her husband, now missing for six months. The wife provides the investigator with little information about the details of or motivations behind her husband’s disappearance: a book of matches, a photograph, a worn raincoat, and the fact that he vanished only hundreds of yards from his house while on the way to a meeting with his colleague, Tashiro. The narrator is immediately suspicious. Why has Nemuro Haru taken so long to seek the assistance of a private detective? Why does she provide so little information about her husband, his life-style, and his personality? The...
(The entire section is 1052 words.)
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