Sunday, July 18, 2010

翼ある闇 メルカトル鮎最後の事件

When the detective Kisarazu Yuuya and his companion and mystery writer Kouzuki Sanetomo arrive at the medieval-ish mansion Souajou, Kisarazu's client has already been killed, just as this client's son, with their heads being cut off and swapped with one body and head found in a locked room. For what sake do the serial murders in the Imakagami family continue? Why all the incomprehensible staging of the murders? And why was Kisarazu hired in the first place?

I finished this book about a week ago, but to comprehend Maya Yutaka's role in the shinhonkaku movement and to be able to state something about his debut work, I have to admit, I had to read some secondary sources first. As I should have been doing with jukkakukan no satsujin, as I realized in retrospect... you never stop learning.

Apparently Maya was pretty cutting-edge at that time. While certainly throwing the orthodox mystery writer any bone in terms of conditions they want to see being stuck to, he also in a way deconstructs the stability and predetermination of characters and their roles in such novels. This already becomes apparent in the Imakagami family members the plot focuses on in the process. Their insecurity in their self-awareness and how they just let themselves be governed by a supposed destiny and/or a higher entity, as well as the extent of fictitiousness in the whole setting, were in a way precursors to later sekai-kei constitutions. Namely the exchangeablity of characters, but just as well the focus on those in a fictitious setting that totally segregates society (through their narrative view) and focuses on their struggles (which in actual sekai-kei often lead to armageddon, ironically).

This exchangeability is also an important key to solving the murders, which both detectives fail at, what again underlines the deconstruction of literary roles. Yes, there are two detectives here as the title already gives away. Mercator Ayu appears in the second half of the book and from then on the reader kind of ascents a deduction spiral which at the upper floor just crumbles due to the incapability of both detectives. So the second half gets pretty unexpected and exciting, while sadly the first one is at times almost a bit too elusive but also casual at the same time, which might not fall into place for some readers. For me the constant subtle humor and Maya's slightly difficult but rewarding style of writing mostly made up for that though. His massive referencing of European classical music can get a little exhausting, but that should not be anything new since a lot of mystery writers like to throw their vast knowledge in certain fields at the reader...

In the end this can be defined as anti-mystery, but personally I would not say so since while some developments are certainly unexpected and deconstructing the genre, as long as you figure out the role of the narrator, you can pretty much guess where the essential inconsistency lies that points to one correct solution among the multiple false ones. I would be careful in general before using the term anti-mystery, since the genre was always founded on self-criticism or even self-denial and parody elements, so saying that breaking conventions and using unexpected twists would automatically account for an anti-mystery is a bit undue.

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