I finished the book a couple days ago, but wasn’t sure what to add to the discussion here. I guess I’ll start by saying I did enjoy it as a puzzle, especially since I guessed mostly right, lol, but the lack of characterization was disappointing. The only characters who really got explored were 裏染 and 仙堂, both of whom I found rather boring. The 袴田 siblings didn’t even get much time to interact which could have been a fun dynamic. I think the biggest drawback of the book was the length. If it had fun characters this wouldn’t have been an issue, but since the whole point of the book is the riddle at the end, it takes too long to get there. Especially because the amount of information revealed in the last chapter makes guessing before that moment nearly useless.
That said, I did still enjoy it, and the complex sequence of events was fun to piece together in my head. I felt like I should have kept a notebook of my own with everyone’s alibis and the precise timestamps of events, which is the kind of logical deduction I really like. I agree the last conclusion about him leaving in the リヤカー is a bit hard to swallow, though. It would have made more sense if the club members had pulled the リヤカー all the way back into the building, allowing him to stay dry, but iirc they still left it outside right? And the thing about not being about to take the umbrella is also crazy.
I’m surprised the book gets as much praise as it seems to, but maybe these ‘Queensian’ mysteries are just that uncommon these days? Or maybe it’s just a very modern and approachable take on the style?
Probably the latter. There is most definitely not a dearth of Queensian books* in Japanese mystery fiction, but I don’t think many are written in a LN-ish style. This was also a debut book, and an 芥川賞 winner (which is a debut prize, so not unrelated points)–and who knows how much hype is authentic and how much is manufactured by the publisher.
If you liked the plot but not the length you could check out ノッキンオン・ロックドドア, which is a short story collection by the same author.
*: Aosaki Yuugo might be the 平成のエラリー・クイーン, but he is certainly not the first Japanese writer to take up the Queen legacy. 有栖川有栖 writes in the Queen style, and in fact has his own series of “National” books/short stories. I’ve heard that 法月綸太郎 also writes in the Queen style, although I haven’t actually read any of his books. And there’s also 柄刀一, who has written books with titles directly based on Queen’s National series. On top of this, another famous series by Queen is The Tragedy of X/Y/Z, and, while I don’t know if all of them are actually Queensian, there are a lot of Japanese mysteries titled [_]の悲劇.
FWIW this book was on multiple “best reads this year” lists I saw by book review Youtubers which had raised my hopes for it. I’m sure the publisher hyped it (according to book jackets every book you’re about to read is going to rock your world) but it did get a decent amount of attention from normal people.
Finished the book! Overall I found it a pleasant light read. Although my Japanese reading speed is many, many times slower than my English reading speed, the clear writing style definitely helped me progress without getting fed up or lost.
I haven’t read too many logic based mysteries like this - kudos to those in the book club who figured out the solution! I wasn’t good at differentiating the characters, partly due to my own skill level and partly due to the lack of characterisation, so I didn’t really try and guess at all, whereas I normally would try and work it out as I went along. Having read a very dreary thriller recently I enjoyed the lighter tone of this, though I can see it’s a bit unreal