"The constellations of the Gold Saints are located in the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the route the Sun traces in one year. Do you understand? The Gold Cloths that lie on the route of the Sun have bathed in its light since the era of myths! The power of the Sun has been stored within the bodies of our Gold Cloths! So this is it!! Burn our Cosmo to the maximum! Now is the time to concentrate our spirits into one... And in the depths of Hades.... Let there be Light!"
Funny to see that we're only two weeks in the academic year and I'm already busy with crisis management. Wait, funny is probably not the right word. Something more negative would be better. On one hand, I like to think that many, many years of gaming have made honed my crisis management skills (playing Super Mario Bros. is always crisis management with me, escaping from one peril only to arrive at the next one), on the other hand, I always die. Oh, how many times have I yelled at Takahashi Meijin yesterday? In just one level. Anyway, concerning the Detective Conan drama reviews, I've decided to do one single post next week for the remaining three episodes instead of seperate reviews. Crisis management!
And now the main course. Norizuki Rintarou's Hanzai Horoscope 1 - Rokunin no Joou no Mondai ("Horoscope of Crime 1 - The Problem of the Six Queens") was my train companion for this week and a very pleasant one too. The title might suggest Queen's Calendar of Crime, but this short story collection is much more like Christie's The Labours of Hercules, as the stories are related to Greek mythology. The cases mystery writer Norizuki Rintarou encounters in Hanzai Horoscope 1 all seem to be connected with the mythology surrounding the twelve constellations of the zodiac in one way or another. The stories all start with a short introduction of the constellation in question and the mythology behind it, which of course usually turns out to be a thematic clue to the story. And like the 'I' in the title suggests, this is actually only the first part of this series, going from Aries to Virgo. I think the second volume isn't finished yet actually...
In [Aries] Girisha Hitsuji no Himitsu ("The Secret of the Greek Ram"), Norizuki is asked by a somewhat down-the-gutter reporter-acquaintance to solve the murder of a homeless man. The reporter had been undercover for some time, pretending to be homeless and had become friends with the victim. One night, he found the victim being attacked by what seemed to be hobo-hunters. His friend eventually died, but some enigmatic words spoken by the assailants the reporter overheard make him think these attackers weren't 'just' hobo-hunters. And why did the assailants steal the reporter's Golden Fleece jacket? The mystery behind why the homeless man was killed is decent, but the logic behind the stolen Golden Fleece is a bit far-fetched
In [Tauros] Rokunin no Joou no Mondai ("The Problem of the Six Queens"), Norizuki is asked by his editor at the magazine Aleph to solve the mystery of the death of writer Abuhara Satoru. The man had fallen to his death at an apartment building. In Abuhara's last column, he hinted at his life might end soon and included a mysterious haiku that referenced an old play he wrote and the troupe he worked with at that time. Not a really good story (why is this the subtitle for this collection?), as the true intentions behind the code are very unrealistic, while the code itself is kinda spoiled by the title of the story and not particular surprising.
I've actually already discussed [Gemini] Zeus no Musukotachi ("The Sons of Zeus") in my review of Anata ga Meitantei, so I'll refer to that post. My only remark here is that Norizuki Rintarou being a writer is actually most prominent in this collection, as he gets involved with most of the cases here through his occupation as a mystery writer. Especially whole kantsume-thing in this story is very writer-ish. Not sure whether it's also done outside Japan.
[Cancer] Hydra Daijuu no Kubi ("The Tenth Head of the Hydra") is the most Queenish of the stories, as it features a very enigmatic scene: the apartment of a murder victim has been ransacked in a very curious way. The intruder apparently used five gloves (not pairs) while searching through the apartment and for some reason, only took two of those with him or her, leaving the other three in the apartment. Why go through all this trouble? What makes this story also very Queenish are the three suspects: one of the suspects is responsible for the suicide of the victim's suicide and apparently the victim was killed by the one responsible to protect himself. The best story in the collection, an original idea that develops in a very logical way.
In [Leo] Kagami no Naka no Lion ("The Lion in the Mirror"), inspector Kunou (the Velie to Norizuki's Queen)'s investigation into the murder of an actress is not going good. They have a suspect, a young and upcoming scriptwriter, and found pretty damning evidence in his apartment, but apparently the apartment building of the scriptwriter had been the target of a stake-out by the drugs department and the cops there say the scriptwriter never left his building. Making it kinda hard to actually kill the actress, put her in the back of her car and driving it to the underground garage of her apartment building. In fact, that makes it so impossible that people even start to say that inspector Kunou planted the evidence himself! A story with psychological clues rather than physical ones and not one of my favorites because of that.
A friend of a friend told me this..... a young student, A, receives a mail by a friend, B, asking if she could water her plants as B was on vacation. A didn't had the time and mailed by to B, but B never replied back. A called B several times, but she never answered. One week later, A heard that B had been in a coma for over a month now because of overhydration... [Virgo] Meifu ni Torawareta Musume ("The Girl Imprisoned in Hades") starts off like that Norizuki's masterpiece Toshi Densetsu Puzzle, as Norizuki hears about this new urban legend. A reporter friend (the same from the first story) actually traced the urban legend to the original source and actually found the persons A and B! Norizuki is surprised to hear that the urban legend, including the mail that was sent after B had gone into a vegatative state, was pretty close to actual circumstances and Norizuki decides to investigate what is going on. Not as strong as Toshi Densetsu Puzzle, but still a relatively strong story that once again relies on the interpretation of circumstances and looking at things from a different angle (which is pretty common in Norizuki's stories).
Like always, Norizuki's short stories are usually at least entertaining to read, with Queen-ish stories in modern settings. Norizuki's strength lies in his writing stories that rely on the interpretation of situations that are strongly related with logical deductions. His stories with locked rooms and strange codes therefore usually don't feel as strong or unique like the 'interpretation' stories. It does make his style of stories perfect for this time and age, as they don't feel as forced or aged in modern settings. This sentence makes the jump to mythology rather strange, but the Greek mythology symbolism is done decently for most stories and pretty darn well for stories like Zeus no Musukotachi and Hydra Daijuu no Kubi. Anyway, for someone interested in Greek mythology and detective stories, this is a very amusing short story collection.
Original Japanese title(s): 法月綸太郎 『犯罪ホロスコープ１ 六人の女王の問題』: 「«牡羊座» ギリシャ羊の秘密」 / 「«牡牛座» 六人の女王の問題」 / 「«双子座» ゼウスの息子たち」 / 「«蟹座» ヒュドラ第十の首」 / 「«獅子座» 鏡の中のライオン」 / 「«乙女座» 冥府に囚われた娘」