Okay. I'll take a bunch of those white ones.
- I wouldn't do that if I was you.
- They are lillies, m'sieur. Some people associate them with death...
Yikes! Thanks for telling me. What other flowers do you have?
What do they signify?
Hmm, I don't want to give her the wrong idea about me.
"Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars"
Please tell me the answer, is fate unchangeable? Yes, I will have to return this TV in a few weeks. Though I love playing games on it. Though I didn't really like Suikoden II as much as I did Suikoden I.
Nikaidou Ranko and her stepbrother Reito should by now be familiar with readers of this blog. Or else I refer to the Ranko tag. The Nikaidou Ranko series might be a sorta of an acquired taste, the more I think about it. Set in post-war Japan, Nikaidou clearly aims at a sort-of modern Edogawa Rampo story-telling with his novels. Weird, grotesque murders and situations that seem like a continuation of the grand master himself. This becomes more clear as the series continues (see Akuma no Labyrinth), but I have to admit, it does get harder to really get into later Nikaidou. I mean, what starts out as a honest bit of Rampo homage, has been giving us destined detectives, cannibals and Nazi-Werewolves (I will never drop this point) in slightly more recent entries. I haven't even started in the more newer novels, for sheer fear of what Nikaidou might have turned to the series into.
An impossible disappearance of a building! Queen's The Lamp of God is of course mentioned and while there are few variations in the story-types involving disappearing buildings/trains/etc., I still liked this story, mainly because how the story was told and because Nikaidou added a little touches to tie it up to the historical background (post WWI Russia, the revolution etc.). It works well as a short story and I was quite pleased with it.
Misshitsu no Yuri ("Lilies in the Locked Room") is about the locked room murder of a writer in her apartment. The murder was actually recorded on audio-tape, because the victim was dictating a manuscript when the murderer visited her apartment, but does it also proof to be a clue to the murderer? No, not really actually. But the thing I actually want to say the most about this story is: the basic ideas behind this locked room murder is precisely the same as a story I had been playing around with in my head for two years now. Heck, I sorta tried it in real life too. Heck, I even mentioned it at the time on this blog (point V)!
This story predates my idea and I never actually wrote it, so I am not complaining. In fact, one of the reasons I never wrote the story (besides the fact that I can't write) was because I couldn't never seem to work out in a satisfying way. It would always end up as too obvious. And I am sorta happy to say that Nikaidou also didn't really succeed with this story. Which is actually very, very low of me. But still. I actually think Nikaidou made it worse, because the clues he left pointing at the murderer and the way the actual locked room is set up, make no sense at all. There was no reason for the murderer to do all that. Especially if you realize that by creating the locked room, (s)he was actually leaving more clues incriminating him/herself! Anyway, I guess I'll abandon this idea for a while, though I still want to use it one day...
The last story in the collection is more of a short novellette, called Gekiyaku ("Strong Poison"). And yes, it's a reference to Sayers, even though the contents of the story are more related to Christie. The story is about a poisoning murder done during a bridge party, with Reito as one of the attending guests. It's a bit more complex than Christie's story, with eight people spread over two tables and a bit of walking around by the dummies, but yes, the basic idea is the same. How was the victim poisoned and by whom. Ranko wasn't there at the party, but an examination of the score cards (like Poirot and a hint of Vance!) gives her a good idea about who the murderer is.
A fairly mediocre story. The inclusion of the bridge rules as a sort of intermezzo was sorta strange, as it broke up the flow of the story. Of course, the story had a very, very tedious beginning with the victim making lots enemies, just so we could have a nice cast of suspects. The ending of the story is surprising though, with an incredible amount of plot-twists and multiple solutions, that almost seem too impressive for just a short novellette. Actually, it doesn't just seem too impressive: it simply is. A look at other reviews showed that a lot of people thought that it was unneccesary complex. Not in the sense of logic, but just in the sense that Nikaidou tries too hard to surprise the reader with several solutions presented one after another. I wouldn't say simple is best, but in this case, simpler would have been better. And shorter. Seriously, this story could have lost half the page count and still work.
All in all a not very impressive collection. I only really enjoyed the first story, which feels the most like a Nikaidou story with its detailed historical background and the more gothic atmosphere. Which is what he does best, I guess. Maybe I should continue reading the series to see whether he managed to get rid of the Nazi-Werewolves.
And yes, another bland review, presented by Lack of Sleep, I Want to Play Videogames and of course Mediocre Books Lead to Mediocre Reviews. But from what I've read until now, I think I will be a bit more enthusiastic about Hoch's Hawthorne series. A bit. And to wrap things up, I pose the question: why is there a complete Sam Hawthorne collection available in Japanese but not in English?
Original Japanese title(s): 二階堂黎人 『ユリ迷宮』: 「ロシア館の謎」 / 「密室のユリ」 / 「劇薬」