Monday, June 28, 2010


Various detectives are gathered on Erikajima to investigate Alice Mirror Castle and find the Alice Mirror. A chess board with 10 white figures makes the detectives aware of their situation being strikingly similar to a certain literary masterpiece and the further development unfortunately supports their hunches...

Agatha Christie and Lewis Carroll dancing a jig in a locked room in a Victorian castle. Lovely. How phantasmatic can detective fiction get?

In terms of sheer entertainment, atmosphere and development, this already became one of my favorites. Again Kitayama manages to avoid any sort of boring passages and the dialogues are always fun to read. The most obvious improvement though is his speciality, the physical trick. This must have been the most cruel locked room murder I've encountered so far... and it was so brilliantly constructed I really had absolutely no idea concerning the solution.

In general, I was pretty clueless the whole time, even though, or maybe because, the culprit was dancing right in front of me. Just like the detectives in this story, any more or less experienced mystery reader with certain expectations and knowledge concerning certain rules is pretty much doomed to fail in his deduction. Which is another awesome point of this book. While Kitayama provides a great locked room murder among the general entertaining events bound to happen in such a Christie-like setting, he also challenges her masterpiece just like for example Ayatsuji Yukito did as well. In my opinion, this challenge works out much better. While the truth in Jukkakukan no Satsujin was kind of unfair and hard to swallow, in this case it's just dangling right before your eyes and if you don't see it it's really just your own fault.

The setting can again be more or less classified in the realm of sekai-kei, but funnily enough, on the contrary it seems more natural the more mystery maniac the reader is. It kind of relates to the method of 強現実 (uber-reality) which is also addressed by the detectives during their debate on physical tricks, which almost turns out like a lecture in certain other mystery novels where the author indirectly demonstrates his own thoughts on the matter. Yes, frankly this book is pure bliss for any mystery maniac, if only for dialogues like when the characters talk about certain points a physical trick has to stick to or about the connection between locked room murders and surrealism...

I can and probably will go into detail with this particular novel since I really think it deserves it, but right know I don't have the time for that. Consequently it will be full of spoilers so I might edit this entry later and indicate where I begin touching on the content more directly.

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