Winner of the inaugural Soji Shimada Mystery Award
2014. Taipei’s once bustling shopping district Ximending has been destroyed in a devastating earthquake, and as the years pass, it never recovers.
2020. Ximending is now a byword for government failure. Desperate to overturn its fortune, the government entrusts the task of regenerating the area to a private company. But rather than the usual new shopping malls or public art, they suggest a more radical solution. Resurrect the area in virtual reality. And so they go about building an exact replica of Ximending in its glory days of 2008. Every detail is the same, every street and shop. But this time, you wander the streets in a specially constructed room, with a conveyor belt floor.
This is Virtua Street.
But just as the developer Da-Shan and his colleague Lu-Hua are about to launch, they discover a technical problem. They enter the system to investigate, only to find… a dead body! A police investigation reveals the victim to have been struck on the back of the head. The body belongs to a man discovered dead in the real world, alone in a room locked from the inside, with no murder weapon in sight.
And the only people who know about Virtua Street and its technical workings are the team of developers, Da-Shan and Lu-Hua…
By mixing science fiction and crime, the conventions of both genres are overturned in original and surprising ways. Soji Shimada, the giant of Japanese mystery writing himself, has said that Virtua Street may well set the new standard for Asian crime writing in the twenty-first century.