Sunday, December 27, 2009

『死亡の館、赤い壁 (空城の計)』


Phantom thieves are artists who magnificently steal their trophies with the most brilliant tricks, but a detective is nothing more than a critic who looks at the results and tries to find faults."

"Detective Conan"

One of the first things that surprised me when I first visited the local Yamada Denki was that they sold books. And then the second surprise was that they were selling an immense Arsène Lupin boxset (placed next to an (Edogawa Rampo's) Shounen Tantei Dan boxset), which I still want to buy every time I walk past it. Then I realize I already own most of the books in a language I can read a lot easier.

So instead, I bought Nikaidou Reito's Meitantei no Shouzou ("Portrait of Great Detectives"), which featured pastiches on Maurice LeBlanc's Arsène Lupin, Ayukawa Tetsuya's Inspector Onitsura and John Dickson Carr's H.M. Merrivale (whom I'll admit I always confuse with Carr's Fell. In my head, they're the same). Prior books by Nikaidou I read where good, so expectations were high. If only I could remember when and where I bought this book. It was just sitting on my shelf here, but heck if I can remember where it came from.

But setting the mystery of the appearing books aside, expectations were fulfilled. 'Cept for one story (of which I can't determine whether it was a pastiche or not), they were all enjoyable. While I shamefully admit I actually like Ellery Queen's A Study in Terror, I usually don't read detective pastiches (parodies, I love though). Occasionally coming across titles like Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula explains why. But Meitantei no Shouzou was great, so I was quite happy. Especially the Arsène Lupin pastiche, Lupin no Jizen ("The Charity of Lupin") couldn't be more Lupin even if LeBlanc himself had written it. Sekishisou no Satsujin ("The Murder of Smallpox Manor") with its disappearing people and a cursed manor was an enjoyable Merrivale pastiche, which Nikaidou clearly enjoyed writing, seeing all the references to other Merrivale adventures.

One story in this collection wasn't a mystery or a pastiche though, but very relevant. Kaasuke no Seiki no Taiketsu ("Kaasuke's Match of the Century") is the ultimate homage to bibliophilic mystery readers. A "restaurant" that serves no food, but instead detective novels, ranging from the newest books to vintage books in original print? A Yomu-lier (Read-i-lier (Sommelier)) who will suggest the best books to read? A duel which is decided by determining the title and vintage of a book just by a single sip passage of the book? While it still appeared strange to me to bring your date to such a restaurant, the rest of the story was plain awesome. They should make manga about bibliophiles. 

Original Japanese title(s): 二階堂黎人 『名探偵の肖像』/「ルパンの慈善」/「風邪の証言」/「ネクロポリスの男」/「素人カースケの世紀の対決」/「赤死荘の殺人」


  1. 死亡の館? Isn't that were the anime is right now? I didn't know you were following that along side the manga?

  2. Not really following, but I did happen to see the final episode of 死亡の館. Which made the 三国志 references a lot easier to comprehend compared to the manga. The trailer to "Tenkuu no Lost Ship" afterwards was a semi-nice surprise. Nice, because I didn't expect it and KID was in it. But only semi, because the story (with terrorists!) is not really what I was hoping for...

    (Note that only the 空城の計 part of the title is relevant to the post. In a farfetched way)

  3. Okay Ho Ling, let's make a deal: You like Arsène Lupin, right? But have you read "Le dernier amour de Lupin"?
    It's a novel that Maurice Leblanc wrote in 1936, but he never got to publish it.
    It has only been published recently one ot two years ago in French.

    So what I am suggesting is this: I translate the entire novel Le Dernier Amour de Lupin in English (I'm in vacation so I have lots of free time), and you translate "Portrait of Great Detectives"

    To prove I'm not a fraud I'll even send my translation to you before you send yous

    deal? :D

    1. Sorry, I'm not interested in translation swaps. And though it's been a while, I can actually read French and I could go through the book myself in less time than it would take me to translate another book.

    2. aww I thought I got you this time ^^