Mariko Hashioka who writes in the pen name NatusoKirino was one of the leading writers amongst the female writers of Japanese detective fiction.  She now lives in Tokyo.


NatsuoKirino was born on October 7th 1951 in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Perfecture. Her father was an architect and she was the middle child in a family of three children. She lived in many cities during her childhood. She studied law and worked in different fields including in a theatre. She really did not know what to do in life. Just before she turned thirty she joined he script-writing classes. This helped her to finalise on her profession to become a writer. She became popular in her forties. When she started writing in 1984 she dabbled with novels in romantic genre. This was not giving her satisfaction or money. She started to write novels concentrating on the psychological facets of the crime. In the early 90s she decided that mystery novels would be her mainstay. She won many awards, the most popular being ‘Mystery Writers of Japan Award’, Japan's top mystery award for her famous novel ‘Out’ which was published in 1997. The English translation of the same book found its way into the final list of Edgar Award in 2004. After ‘Out’, three more novels were translated into English.


NatsuoKirino is a crime fiction writer who reminds the reader of the American detective stories. There is a range and depth in character depiction and the protagonist is a woman in most of her novels. Crimes are incidental to the plots with the characters struggling against robbery, fraud and murder. Her style of writing is described as ‘functional’ and ‘flat’ illuminated sometimes ‘by a strange lyricism’. Loneliness is a theme that is seen in many of her novels. Kirino has said that she was fascinated by human nature that suddenly turned around a clean person into becoming a criminal. ‘Out’ had a woman murdering her husband and dismembering his body. She was criticised for this too. But she was reflecting the reality, increasing number of such crimes in Japan.

Popular works by the author

Most of her novels became popular in Japan. The novels which became globally popular with its English translation were ‘Grotesque’, ‘Real World’, and ‘The Goddess Chronicle’. ‘Out’ was translated into English by Stephen Snyder, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, well known for his translation.