"What resonated deep within my body, was not the fun chatter of my classmates, nor the warm words I exchanged with my family. Like a radio that wasn't tuned right, it all sounded like interference"
While most of the books I read (and therefore buy) are detectives, I occasionally buy other books. Some might be about the Japanese language, some about videogames and once in a blue moon, I actually buy fiction that doesn't belong to the detective genre. Though I don't go through them fast. Maybe I should continue with the second chapter of Ningen Shikkaku ("Failure as a Human") by now, I think I finished the first chapter almost a month ago...
I also have some books by Otsuichi, a popular light novel writer who mainly writes horror-stories, as far as I know. I had heard about him before, as some of his novels are also available in English. But I learned most about him when Otsuchi was discussed in class once as an example of the Japanese Generation Y, and we also read/watched some of his works there. And his stories seemed interesting enough. And very, very graphic. In words. I don't know what's worse, to see such graphic things as images (i.e. manga) or just reading it in detail. At any rate, the stories left an impression. So I picked up some books by him. In the mindset that these were horror-stories. Which was not completely correct.
So I think this is the first time I'm going to write about a book, I hadn't even considered to review. I always thought Otsuichi's GOTH, also available in English, was just a horror story collection, so I was very surprised to read on the back-cover that GOTH had won the third Honkaku Mystery Taishou (Orthodox Mystery Price), beating something like Norizuki Rintarou's Norizuki Rintarou no Kouseki. Which was a great book. It also got second place in the Kono Mystery ga sugoi (This Mystery is Great) rankings. GOTH was probably the first light-novel that moved into the big-leagues (in the detective field). So GOTH quickly moved from my 'other'-pile (which shrinks at the rate of one book every two months. If things are going well), to my 'detective'-pile (which goes at around a book a week, sometimes two).
GOTH tells the story of the narrator, a high school student and his classmate Morino Yoru, a girl always dressed in black, who actively investigate strange happenings in town. But not as 'boy detectives'. The two just have an interest in the macabre. Gruesome murders are much more alluring to them than just chatting about what was on TV yesterday. The narrator's 'hobby' is walking around crime scenes and meeting murderers. They just want to seek the darkness within man from close by. They have no interest in 'justice' or helping out other people. They just want to see blood.
While the English version of GOTH is a single release, based on the hardcover release, I got the paperback version, which is split up in two books. I'll discuss only the first one here. Mainly because I haven't read the second one yet. And because splitting up reviews makes me seem more productive. GOTH - Yoru no Shou ("GOTH - Yoru's Chapter") is the first book and consists of three short stories. It seems like the story order is slightly different in the paperback version, but that doesn't really matter.
In Ankokukei (GOTH) (Dark Type: GOTH), Morino has picked up something what seems to be the notebook of the serial murderer prowling around lately, who dissects his victims, high school girls, in countless pieces and leaves them in the mountains. Using the diary, they manage the body of a girl that hasn't been discovered yet and they wonder whether they could get contact with the murderer. After a while, Morino starts to dress and act like the third victim, but she too disappears, only leaving a text-message saying "help".
In Inu (Dog), the narrator investigates the disappearance of dogs in the neighborhood, after his sister came across a pit hidden away beneath a bridge with the remains of said dogs. In a parallel story-line, a girl and her dog are planning to kill her mother's boyfriend because they keep getting abused.
Finally, Kioku (Twins) (Memories: Twins), Morino has trouble falling in sleep, saying she needs to put a rope around her neck in order to fall asleep. She also tells the narrator about her dead twin sister. The two of them used to pretended to be death to scare people, but one day, her sister Yuu accidentally hanged herself. The narrator travels to Morino's hometown to investigate about the twin sisters' past.
All of these stories feature some kind of 'surprise' ending (though I doubt any experiences reader of the genre will truly be surprised), and while the stories feel more like horror-stories than detective-stories, these endings and the, in hindsight, fairly well plotted stories do make it a suitable book to discuss here. Especially the first story features a nice conclusion in an almost Queen-ish logical argument solution. Which was quite surprising. Though I wouldn't say this book was better in the orthodox mystery subgenre than Norizuki Rintarou no Kouseki, I do have to say I'm fairly (pleasantly) surprised by this book. But most memorable is the darkness in these stories. These stories are quite dark, with graphic violence and just creepy. Which was kinda what Otsuichi does, I remember from my class. He pulls it off quite good. So yeah, I think I'll start with the second book soon.
[ADD: Review of the second book]
Original Japanese title(s): 乙一 『GOTH - 夜の章』「暗黒系 Goth」 /「犬 Dog」/「記憶 Twins」