Wednesday, March 3, 2010

無貌伝 ~双児の子ら~

In a world where humans are coexisting with mysterious creatures called 'hitodenashi' the great detective Akitsu Shoutarou, who was deprived of his face by the phantom thief Mubou, the hitodenashi of humans and souls, recruits the 15 year-old Komura Nozomi, who was sold by his parents at the age of 5, as his assistant. At the same time Mubou announces his next target: The tongue of Enoki Sari, one of the daughters from a family well-known for their railroad company. Akitsu and Nozomi are hired as guards for Sari and eventually Nozomi instead of the great detective finds himself investigating the serial murders happening within the Enoki family...

Hands down, just as Nishio Ishin praised this volume, I also have to admit that it provided me with pretty much everything I expect from a good novel.
The persons involved in the case weren't just puppets needed for their purpose and the main characters were actually really well developed for such an introducing volume of a longer series. Furthermore Mochizuki Yamori managed to develop those two as detectives by actually considering the work they are doing and the life they are living which turned out as a realistic and refreshing approach somewhere between classical and hard-boiled while still granting them enough individuality.

The story/case was quite enthralling and even if the murders themselves weren't ingenious once you figure out certain connections, we still got our big solution chapter at the end where I was eventually reminded of how huge this whole construct of mysteries actually was and how it slowly but always suspenseful unraveled in the course of the plot.

Since the whole premise and setting already involve supernatural elements, they also play a role in the reasoning process. While this certainly isn't orthodox at all Mochizuki managed to integrate those aspects into the whole construct in a way that the reader can actually guess where the boundaries of the supernatural sphere are located and how he can use those aspects as hints for his reasoning. And all in all, as in any good detective fiction (I would say), there were things I figured out and things that I wouldn't come up with, so in the end the supernatural aspects didn't do the case any harm.

This volume was also furnished with a distinct theme that is found in the story and the characters and it also leads into an ending that beside the characters kind of 'justifies' the fact that this was written as a series which I will absolutely be following and hopefully/most likely enjoying. I recommend this to anyone who doesn't mind (or even enjoys) a certain fantasy-side in a mystery setting and to those interested in classical, atmospheric settings (resembling early Shouwa-years in this case btw) and detectives as characters and literary figures.

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