Akimitsu Takagi was born Seiichi Takagi in Aomori, Japan, on September 25, 1920. After completing secondary studies at Daiichi High School, he attended Kyoto Imperial University, majoring in metallurgy. Employed by Nakajima Aircraft, Takagi lost his job because of the ban on military industries imposed by the Allies following their victory over Japan at the end of World War II.
When a fortune-teller revealed to Takagi that his future career was in fiction, not metals, he began to write detective novels. A man of reason even at the age of twenty-eight, he sought expert advice to confirm the seer’s prediction. Takagi sent the manuscript of his first novel, Irezumi satsujin jiken (1948; The Tattoo Murder Case, 1998), to Edogawa Ranpo, a popular and respected Japanese writer of mysteries. On Ranpo’s recommendation, the novel was published. As was foretold, Takagi’s initial detective novel received positive reviews.
After the success of The Tattoo Murder Case, Takagi continued the series featuring Chief Inspector Daiyu Matsushita, a member of the Tokyo police force. These novels are set in the era immediately following World War II, and on occasion, historical incidents (such as the firebombing of Tokyo) feature in the plot. Characters in Takagi’s later works, including novels in the Sabur Kirishima series, continue to reflect their creator’s personal interest in legal matters. Takagi was a self-educated authority on the law, and most of his protagonists are either detectives (amateur or professional) or public prosecutors.
Recognition of his work arrived early for Takagi. In 1949, while still in his twenties, he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for The Tattoo Murder Case; however, it was not until the 1965 publication of Mikkokusha (1965; The Informer, 1971), based on an actual incident of sabotage in Japan’s manufacturing sector, that he was elevated to a position among Japan’s elite writers of detective fiction. Consequently, his previously published novels, which had been successful in their own right, again found their way to the best-seller lists.
Takagi suffered a stroke in 1979 but continued to write and publish works of fiction into the late 1980’s. His final years were spent in declining health; by 1990 additional strokes had ended his writing career. He died in Tokyo in 1995.