Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The odd-looking 'water wheel mansion' inhabited by a masked host and a lonely young woman... Last year in a stormy night it was haunted by an unfathomable tragedy. Will the nightmare occur this year again? The secret of Fujinuma Issei's posthumous visionary painting and the mysterious disappearance of Shimada Kiyoshi's friend from a locked room guides Shimada to the mansion to uncover the secret truth hidden behind the steadily turning water wheels...

Being the second novel in Ayatsuji Yukito's kan-series one can clearly observe his improvement in writing. While I definitely also liked Jukkakukan a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it, suishakan no satsujin can be considered more as a detective novel without loosing its versatile narration and gaining even more atmosphere through the first use of a well-defined large mansion, the trademark of this series. Due to the usage of very classical gothic horror principles and the mansion itself as a kind of guide, the reader wanders through a tense uncanniness without ever forgetting the crime and deduction part either.

The first novel was kind of affected by its own trick. Due to that trick's nature the characters, while providing interesting dialogues, were rather bland and the 2 parallel plot lines did not really work that well together at times. At least I sometimes felt one of the plots was rather distracting from what I perceived as the main plot. Especially after reading Suishakan, were the location and most of the cast are the same in both the past and present plot line, I felt this criticism to be more justified since the split narration worked fantastically this time, not least because both sides were equally important and interesting. Furthermore the characters felt more alive this time due to being less restricted.

I guessed/deduced most of the trick correctly apart from some of the many many hints thrown at you in the process, but it also was because of this many hints that I somehow felt encouraged to begin reasoning for myself since while Shimada this time certainly acts as a thoughtful and successful detective, most of the narration varies and switches between characters quite often and you really have to be a good observer and have a good memory to actually connect all the points at the end to underline your theory. Because of that I really wasn't disappointed that I managed to figure out the bigger part, I actually enjoyed seeing all the pieces build a beautiful, logical picture in the end and I prefer this fair but well constructed solution over the more or less unfair and unexpected one from its predecessor.

I was wavering a bit after Jukkakukan no satsujin concerning my anticipation of the whole series, but now I'm even more eager to get to know the other works and actually I would start reading the next novel right away... if there wasn't a certain parcel arriving in a few days.

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