Things are happening. My initial suspicion was almost certainly wrong (no spoiler, as I never said what it was), but I have a new one now.
It took so long to reach the actual mystery. And we finally met our recurring character(s?). I knew it’d be him, but I couldn’t imagine how he might fit in the story. Apparently, he’ll be enthusiastic about all kinds of specialized products throughout the book…
I just read up to the beginning of 平松詩織の３, so just past the point where ‘the incident’ is first mentioned. Or, put differently, just before it happens. And yes, it does! I actually really like the writing, the atmosphere and the pacing of it though! I think with how short the first story was, it maybe couldn’t unfold it’s full potential? But I actually like this one as a simple love story. It’s super cute, and I like the parallels and opposites between the two sides of the story.
Back to the story! I wonder what the incident will be. And also, what meaning there is to their names… (Spoiler for the hint in the preface to the book.)
I’ll read on now so I get to read about @omk3’s suspicion.
I finished today’s two chapters, and my suspicion still stands! It seems I had miscounted the chapters. There’s only two more left, so tomorrow it’s the end of this story. Therefore I’ll reveal my suspicion below so I can come back and see how wrong I was (or not).
Caution! Big spoilers below if my theory is right.
The person who 堀木 thinks is 松本 has been 平松 all along. He never was properly introduced to her. In fact, he saw 平松 waving to his sister once from afar when his sister never noticed her at all. And while 松本 is very distinctive in her appearance with her brown hair and modern clothes, he never mentioned any of that like you’d expect (I think he even said about her appearance being normal, but I can’t find it now.) And there’s also a hint in the names themselves. I’m convinced that 松本 was actually the girl who nearly ran him over with her bicycle, as she was speeding away from the crime scene, like everyone initially suspected.
Aww. It was a love story after all. A much better outcome than my very first suspicion, that 平松 was a ghost (I mean, she did insist that no one could ever notice her). I think I’m starting to realize the writer’s modus operandi. There seem to be two “tricks” to each story. One of them is not particularly important to the solution, but it can serve to let the readers who guessed it feel that they need not search any further. In the first story I guessed the unimportant trick, then completely missed the important one. In this story, it was the other way round. Something to look out for in the next stories, I suppose.
So, was 別紙’s assistant 羽美ちゃん or not? I guess we’ll find out in the following stories.
The next story is short (about 20 kindle pages) and has no chapters. My intention is to read it in two parts, but I don’t know where it would be best to stop. I guess I’ll start reading and see how it goes. If I have the time and don’t feel like stopping, I might also read it in one go, but probably not.
In the end it took me two days to read the story, because I had very little reading time yesterday and almost fell asleep while reading. I did catch 1 1/2 of the tricks this time though.
This time I’m not even sure if it’s the important or the secondary trick that I solved. The setting was extremely different to the previous ones, and there was so much wanton violence compared to the mundane everyday mysteries of the previous stories, that it felt absolutely unreal. Combined with the narrator trying to make 別紙 not speak so loudly, I quickly realized they were in a cinema. Now I had no reason to guess that the tied up people in the movie weren’t Japanese, and while I did think that they might be able to get up with the chairs, I didn’t quite think of them shooting through the window, nor does it seem very feasible to me, but it’s a movie after all.
The next story has an intro and 4 chapters. Intro+chapter1+chapter2 are 11 pages, chapter3 is 11 pages, and chapter 4 is 15 pages, so I think I’ll divide it like that and read it over 3 days. This leaves another 10 days for the last two stories, which should be ample time.
Finally finished the second story. I got delayed by lots of unplanned obstacles… such as a hangover…
I did not really enjoy that story. I just didn’t get interested at all. I feel like you could read the last 2 or so chapters and skip the rest. Hoping the next story is better again.
I did not see the “common” name thing coming… I only thought that he might be confusing 2 people…
Read chapter 3. This story feels all wrong. We’ve been told that it’s a recounting from a book, but still, the feel is again much more violent than the other stories. A dead body with a head smashed by a rock, a man who hits his family when drunk, police who beat up juvenile delinquents in station toilets. A huge policeman who eats sweets non-stop. People who keep fishing around a crime scene. This all feels very wrong, but how?
I’ll sleep on it, and I’ll post whatever inspiration I may have before reading the last chapter tomorrow, but so far I’m not sure what to think of it all.
Right, so I read up to the asterisk dividing the last chapter in half, and I now have a clearer idea of what I’m supposed to be trying to solve. I think. But I still don’t get why a phone call is supposed to be such a great alibi. There’s nothing about caller id, so couldn’t Tetsuya be calling from anywhere? And couldn’t the speech be coming from a portable tv/phone/recording? There’s so much about this story that doesn’t sit well with me. Why kill someone just because they unwittingly made your abusive father drink again? Killing the drinking partner won’t change the drinking. Nothing makes much sense to me.
RIght, I finished the story. The sense of unreality I got from the whole thing now makes sense. It wasn’t unreality as such, just older reality. I kept thinking there were cultural references I was totally missing, and I was right I guess, but in a different sense than I expected. As a foreigner there were several clues that flew over my head, but there were some (like the chewing gum, the juvenile delinquents and police violence, the politics talk) that stood out, yet I didn’t try to process them properly. Whenever I read a story with phones I always try to work out when we’re talking about, as they really changed the way we operate and what is and isn’t possible, but this time I didn’t feel it was relevant. Since there was talk about the handset being replaced noisily, I just thought of a public phone somewhere. Couldn’t there have been a phone in that hut on the cliff? So all in all I found the solution to the mystery rather disappointing, as it didn’t even feel like a mystery to me, but the talk about the time when a story is set and how it affects the story itself was true enough. Although I still found it strange that there had to be such a long explanation on the deduction that the book was an original publication from the 80s. Is it so rare to read older books? And if it was a newer edition, would it have come with footnotes?
10 days remain until the 24th, so here is a tentative schedule for the remaining two stories:
Dec 15 - Story 5, chapters 1-2 (13 pages)
Dec 16 - Story 5, chapter 3 (11 pages)
Dec 17 - Story 5, chapters 4-6 (11 pages)
Dec 18 - Story 6, chapters 1-2 (8 pages)(I can’t count) chapter 1 (13 pages)
Dec 19 - Story 6, chapter 3 (8 pages) chapters 2-3 (13 pages)
Dec 20 - Story 6, chapter 4 (8 pages)
Dec 21 - Story 6, chapters 5 (5 pages)
Dec 22 - Story 6, chapter 6 (10 pages)
Dec 23- Story 6, chapter 7 (8 pages)
Dec 24 - あとがき
It seems that even with taking the last story extra slow, there’s time for the あとがき before Christmas. The initial plan was to leave the あとがき for after Christmas. I may still do so if I feel like I’d like to read a smaller portion on some days, but it’s just as likely for me to read faster than planned. So yes, the plan is still very much subject to change.