I met Richard Goodfellow at this year’s Bouchercon (World Mystery Convention), and was delighted to have him sign my copy of COLLECTOR OF SECRETS, his debut thriller set in Japan. I was even more delighted when he agreed to guest post here at the blog. And so, with no further ado….here’s Richard:
Collector of Secrets … Puzzles and Lies
How much of your book is historical fact? This has to be one of the most difficult questions for me to answer, not only because the fictional story is tied to historical events but also because I don’t want to give away too many surprises for readers who have yet to finish the book. That being said, here are a few things I can discuss:
Every country has past events they would rather forget and Japan is no exception. The 50-year period, leading up to the end of the Second World War, was a time of imperialist ideologies and ruthless militarism. It was characterized by mass killings, chemical warfare, and other atrocious acts. Similar to the Nazi Regime in Germany, a radical ideology was delivered through iron fisted leaders. By 1940, the mandate of the Japanese army was clear: Kill all, Burn all, Loot all.
From 1894 to 1945, more than $100 billion in goods was stolen from neighbouring Asian countries.
So where did all that wealth end up?
The Yakuza are the largest criminal element in Japan. Today, there are more than 80,000 known members who may be identified by tattoos which often cover almost their entire bodies. A common form of penance for a Yakuza member is to cut off the tip of his left little finger.
Yoshio Kodama, 1911 – 1984, was one of the most notorious Yakuza ring leaders, earning him the title ‘Godfather of Vision’. He held a major stake in the South East Asian drug trade which quickly made him one of the richest men in Asia. Kodama developed ties to the Japanese government who commissioned him to move ‘goods’ out of Asia and into Japan. After the Second World War, Kodama was charged as a Class ‘A’ war criminal but was later released with the help of the American intelligence community.
How could he have gotten away with this?
John F Kennedy’s assassination
Several readers have expressed disbelief that JFK’s assassination ties in with the Collector of Secrets story, but I have to ask if those readers know the following:
Fact: Lee Harvey Oswald spent over a year in Japan from Sep 1957 to Nov 1958.
Fact: Kennedy’s cabinet members were on a plane, bound for Japan, at the time of the assassination.
Fact: A young Japanese women, who had been seen in the company of Lee Harvey Oswald, was later interrogated by FBI investigators.
… she told a journalist that she thought the Japanese woman might be a spy. She feared Lee and the woman were having an affair. Click here for more information
Is this a coincidence or conspiracy?
What is a Hanjie Puzzle?
A Hanjie puzzle is a type of Nonogram puzzle, and in Japan it’s equally as common as Sudoku. In order to solve a Hanjie puzzle, one must use logic and the numbers shown on both the vertical and horizontal axis, to determine which cells are to be left empty and which should be filled in. Upon its completion, a secret picture is revealed.
Go ahead and try one: http://www.hanjie.co.uk/
Historical fact or not?
As both a writer and a reader, I enjoy stories that contain a blend of fact and fiction where the lines of truth blur with fictional imagination to create an exciting read. After the completion of an intriguing story there is always the opportunity to conduct independent research and form an opinion about where the real truth resides. Hopefully, you will find this same pleasure with Collector of Secrets as you uncover the lies, decode the puzzles and discover the secrets.
About Richard Goodfellow:
He spent two years teaching English in Japan in the early 1990s. A software consultant and self-described road warrior, he penned the majority of COLLECTOR OF SECRETS on airplanes and in small towns throughout Oregon, Texas, Florida, and everywhere in between. After completion of the novel’s first draft, he returned to Japan for a month of further travel to lay fresh eyes on the novel’s locations, almost every one of which is real.