A thief is on the loose in Tokyo, a smash and grab artist that targets high-end jewelry stores and steals only rare and valuable watches and timepieces. The identity of the burglar is no mystery. It's a metal robot, dubbed the "Bronze Devil" by the press.
Nothing is safe from this mighty machine. One night the Bronze Devil even carts away an entire clock tower.
Now it has set its sights on the estate of Ryunosuke Tezuka and the "Royal Luminous Watch." The police know the Bronze Devil's next victim because the robot brazenly told them the time and the place.
Except with its almost magical ability to appear and disappear out of nowhere, the police are powerless to stop one theft after the other. That can only mean it's time to put master sleuth Kogoro Akechi and the Boy Detectives Club on the case.
Ranpo Edogawa's first Boy Detectives Club novel since 1939 features the debut of the "Street Gang Irregulars," a motley crew of war orphans inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle's Baker Street Irregulars. Against such a formidable foe, these clever kids will have their work cut out for them.
But let there be no doubt that Edogawa's new and improved crime-fighting crew will come through in the end.
Seido no Majin by Ranpo Edogawa was first published in 1949. The Japanese edition is out of copyright. The reference file used in this translation was downloaded from Aozora Bunko (the Blue Sky public domain library).
Family names follow Western convention, with the surname given last. Long vowels have been shortened to a single character with no diacritics.
Following in the style of traditional Rakugo storytellers, Edogawa occasionally breaks the fourth wall to muse aloud about the unfolding events in the story. The translation will attempt to reflect this and other similar rhetorical quirks.
Eugene Woodbury graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in Japanese and TESOL. He has twice been a Utah Original Writing Competition finalist and is a recipient of the Sunstone Foundation Moonstone Award for short fiction. He lives in Orem, Utah, where he works as a free-lance writer and translator.