「でもこうやって部屋に置いたままにしていたら、それこそ犯人にとって思惑どおりっていうか ― これだと被害者側から自ら、被害に遭い続けるようなもじゃないですか」
"But leaving it here is precisely what the culprit wants! It's like the victims themselves choose to continue to be victims!"
"I do understand what he means though. If this was a murder case, this would be the body. We can't just throw it away because it's filthy..."
"The Jealousy Case"
Following the example of many, many Japanese students, I tried to study in a restaurant yesterday. Partly because I hadn't eaten anything besides cookies around two thirty, also because I had always found it strange to see so many student studying in a restaurant. Wouldn't it be more effective to study in a place more quiet?
In my case: yes. It is much more effective. Studying in a restaurant does not work for me. A result which I had expected already actually, considering I can't even study in an university library.
This might sound a bit disgusting, but reality is stranger than fiction, for this is actually based on a real incident that happened within the Kyoto University Mystery Club. Many, many years ago, someone did really leave human feces on top of some books in the Mystery Club's BOX room. And it remains an unsolved case. It happened before members like Ayatsuji Yukuto and Abiko Takemaru joined the club, but even they confirm that this was an actual incident. The case was made 'famous' for outsiders through the following passage of Takemoto Kenji's Ouroboros no Kisoron ("The Foundation Theory of Ouroboros"):
"Yeah. It happened before I got into university though. A member of the Mystery Club went into the BOX and found shit on top of the books in the bookcase there"
"On top of the books"
I sneered. Ayatsuji started to add gestures to his talking.
"Yes! Like this, on top of some books standing next to each other. And on the second shelf from the top of a bookcase larger than anybody. So there was hardly any space between the books and the shelf above. So the culprit must have taken out some of the books, placed the feces on top of them and then placed them back"
"The Foundation Theory of Ouroboros" (Takemoto Kenji)
Neither Takemoto nor Shitto Jiken's Inui originate from the Kyoto University Mystery Club, meaning they must have heard the rumors from other members. Inui's take on the case is like the summary suggest a fictionalized version of the incident, with the members of the club trying to deduce whodunnit. In true 'Guess the Criminal' fashion, based on the process of elimination of who could have entered the room, when and for what cause the material was placed on top of the books. And while most of the thinking is done by the members of the mystery club, the role of the detective is actually reserved for outsider Tendou Tarou, the binding factor of Inui's Tarot series (Shitto Jiken is the fifth book in the series by the way, which features stories with (vague) references to tarot).
The subject matter might seem a bit strange, but Shitto Jiken (which incidently means Jealousy Case, but sounds like Shit Case) is quite fun to read. It's not really a daily life mystery, but the case is less horrible than a dead body. Or is it? In some ways, it almost seems more horrible than a stiff. I mean, having to investigate a dead body for hints or... that for hints... The conclusion is also a bit darker than one would expect and not what one would have expected after the somewhat silly discussions on how one would have to act to actually put feces on top of books and whether people who love books would be able to do this.
Two little points I didn't like though: the final deduction of Tendou is kinda comes out of nowhere and even though he points out one important hint in particular, no normal reader would have been able to pick that up. The second is the length of the story, which falls a bit between a long short story and a short long story. I would have preferred it shorter.
Because of the somewhat strange length of the story, Inui added an original story for the paperback release, which is actually the 'Guess the Criminal' script which was cancelled because of the shit case. Mittsu no Shitsugi ("The Three Questions") feels like an orthodox Kyoto Mystery Club 'Guess the Criminal' script, with a puzzle which can be solved mostly through the process of elimination, but it also includes a particular trick I have seen quite often now, in English and Japan, but I still get fooled by it. One of these days, I will actually learn from my experiences.
I had quite some fun with this book, as it is so strongly related with 'my' club, but it also conveys quite a realistic image of a Japanese mystery club I think and despite the nasty contents, the story works out as a fairly entertaining detective story. Which manages to be more horrible than a story with a bloody, cut-up corpse. And yes, walking in the club's BOX this morning was kinda scary, having read this book yesterday. The BOX room is still pretty much the same as it used to be all those years ago: a number lock on the door, the inside a bit cramped because of all the bookcases full of books and manga inside it. But luckily no nasty surprises today.
Original Japanese title(s): 乾くるみ 『嫉妬事件』: 「嫉妬事件」 / 「三つの質疑」