Setsunaru Tsumi (The Pitiful Sin)

Date of first publication: May-June, 1891. Origin unknown.


Setsunaru Tsumi is a murder mystery involving a double love triangle and the use of powdered glass as a murder weapon. Morioka and Sasaki note that ‘in the introduction, Black himself notes that the story is enlightening as well as entertaining, for it helps readers to acquire a better understanding of the customs and manners of a distant country.’

(Source: Morioka and Sasaki)

Ohana wants to marry the actor Saitô Eizaburô, so kills his good-for-nothing wife Omatsu by feeding her powdered glass. But Saitô flees and changes his name to Saitô Kôzô. Ohana goes in search of him, finally meeting up with him, but by then she has tuberculosis. Kôzô takes pity on Ohana and decides to die with her. During a court trial, he attempts to confess that he was also guilty with Ohana, but after being persuaded by Okiku, the daughter of the detective Takayama, he testifies that he is innocent. Saitô then marries Okiku.

(Source: Itô)