"You're spreading your imaginary wings even more. It's like you focused on driving a car, without noticing that you have driven off a cliff already"
"You mean like a gag from a cartoon, right? But it's a rule that as long as the driver doesn't notice that he isn't driving on firm ground anymore, the car will continue moving"
"You haven't noticed it yet?"
"I am only looking in front of me"
"Please look beneath yourself"
"I'll look when I have arrived at my destination. If there's ground there, then it means I have been riding on firm ground"
No. Nothing has changed. Even having read Jinroujou no Kyoufu, I still think that 700 pages for a book is quite long. Especially if it takes a long time for people to actually die.
Arisugawa Alice is a familiar name here, but this novel is not part of the Arusigawa novels I usually read actually. Arisugawa has two main series, with me usually discussing the Writer Alice novels. In those novels, criminologist Himura Hideo and mystery writer Arisugawa Alice work together and solve crimes. Arisugawa other main series is the Student Alice series. In this series Eito University Mystery Club members Egami Jirou (head of the club) and Arisugawa Alice (a normal student and aspiring writer) work together and solve crimes. To make it more confusing: student Alice writes the Writer Alice novels, while writer Alice writes the Student Alice novels. So each Alice is just a fabrication of the other Alice.
Yes, it can be quite confusing.
Kouchi prefecture on Shikoku. The mountain village is actually quite famous all over Japan as it's a very queer village: the wealthy Kisara had bought the village (and named it after himself) as an outer heaven for
But this was two months ago. And while she had contact with her parents in the beginning, letters and phone calls slowly started to stop, making them very anxious about what's happened with Maria. Her father therefore requests the other Eito Mystery Club members to go to the village and find out what's happening there. The four remaining members, including Egami and Alice, of course want to help. Stuff happens though, and it results in: Egami and Maria get stuck in Kisara Village, with the other EMC members in the neighbouring village, because the connecting bridge collapsed due to a storm. And it's during the same storm that dead bodies are found on both sides of the river!
First thing that I noticed: Egami Jirou is a much more likeable character than Himura Hideo. Whereas Himura Hideo verbally abuses (writer) Alice whenever there's a chance, Egami is much more like a normal person. He is much more like the senior you want to have. I was a bit disappointed though that the EMC members, despite being mystery club members, didn't really talk about detective novels / writers. I don't know about the other Student Alice novels, but you'd think they would talk a bit more like... the students in Jukkakukan no Satsujin or the dialogues Ranko and Reito have in the Nikaidou Ranko series. You know, referencing both famous and lesser-known stories as they investigate the murders. The EMC members aren't dumb (not at all!), but you'd think they'd be more genre-savvy.
Like I said in the beginning, this novel is long. But I have to admit, it manages to keep your attention quite well for practically the whole story. The story develops at a steady pace due to the double investigation on both sides of the river with Egami as the main detective on one side, and the three remaining EMC members on the other side (with Maria and Alice being the narrators for the respective sides). In fact, there are so many developments in this story that Arisugawa didn't insert one, not two, but no less than three Challenges to the Reader in this novel! It reminds a bit of The Greek Coffin Mystery: the story develops further even after several important plot-details have been revealed by the deductions of the detectives. The difference of course being that three challenges are genuine challenges and not false solutions. The three challenges don't feel gimmicky and actually aren't gimmick and truly fit with the story Arisugawa is telling.
The puzzle-plot is pretty interesting (with a murder in a cave-maze, 'creative artists' as the suspects and a Queen-ish investigation into a letter that has disappeared), but a bit on the easy side, I thought. Arisugawa should have used the myth of the two-headed river-dragon better though. The story as it is though, is still very good and it's not very surprising that (at some time) Arisugawa Alice chose this novel as his own best work (I prefer 46 Banme no Misshitsu released a year earlier though) The logical structure of the deductions on both sides show the Queenian influence on Arisugawa and he certainly manages to come up with a puzzle plot that holds that tradition high.
Like most of the Student Alice novels, this story has actually been made into a movie, a direct-to-VHS release. Can't find any video sources though. But now I come to think about it, this story would make for a pretty entertaining movie.
The writing style in Writer Alice and Student Alice series seem quite different too. Whereas writer Alice can be quite sarcastic in tone (not in Himura's face though), student Alice does feel like a student with his own set of problems. As I have only been reading Writer Alice stories until now, the writing style in this novel feels surprisingly fresh. Maybe switching between the two series is the best way to read Arisugawa? What totally bugs me in both series is the fact both Alices speak Osaka dialect, but don't write/think in it. Why? (yes, I am interested in role language. Probably nobody else cares about this...)
Now to procure the other Student Alice novels...
Original Japanese title(s): 有栖川有栖 『双頭の悪魔』