10 November 2010

The Inugami Clan

I recently finished the book The Inugami Clan by Seishi Yokomizo and translated by Yumiko Yamazaki. I acquired the book on a whim at a major book sale at Snowbound Books in Marquette and eventually it became a "bathroom book" for me. So yes, I read most of this book in the bathroom. I finished it in my good old leather reading chair, though, because I had to get to the ending.

See, Seishi Yokomizo is arguably Japan's biggest mystery novelist, and The Inugami Clan is the best-selling book in his Detective Kindaichi series. Now I'll admit that I don't know much about the mystery genre when it comes to books. In fact, the only genre that could be called a part of the mystery genre that I'm actually rather familiar with is film noir, though in my youth I did read a few Sherlock Holmes books.

The novel was fairly light reading, which is something I rarely do except, well, as a bathroom book. In that regard, it certainly did well.

Despite the fact that Detective Kindaichi is ostensibly the main character of the entire series, I didn't find him particularly engaging. He sort of showed up to get the story rolling and then, until the end, largely went along for the ride. Occasionally, he would chime in with something interesting that he would happen to notice, but for the most part, he didn't really do much. That is, until the end, when he goes on to explain everything.

The other characters never really fully developed as I would sometimes expect, but the author was often good at conveying their small expressions and gestures that would give you small little glimpses at their inner thoughts and motives. A lot of the book becomes a mind game between the reader and these small glimpses. What does it mean that this one person remained silent? What someone else they flash a stern look like that? This all leads up to, what I assume, is the main point of most mystery novels.

The mystery
The book managed to weave a very in depth and convoluted mystery. Admittedly, before the big reveal, I had figured out who had done it, and even a basic idea as to why, but I hadn't pieced together all of the motive, and certainly not all the details of how they went about committing all the murders.

Indeed, perhaps the most amazing part of the book is just how everything fits together to form the final solution. The weaving together of all the seemingly disconnected events in a comprehensible whole at the very end was, perhaps, the most entertaining part of the entire novel. Hence why it moved out of the bathroom and into the living room for the final 60 pages or so.

Final conclusion
If your a big fan of the mystery genre, you might really want to check this book out. Otherwise, it was a pretty light read but a lot of fun at the end. So maybe if you need to get your head out of all those heavy textbooks and just aren't ready to tackle James Joyce for your "pleasure read," this could be a quick and interesting read.

But, ultimately, I just don't think mystery is quite my genre. The end of the book was, ultimately, unrewarding for me. I didn't really feel the characters had grown too much, only that, perhaps, we had come to see some more clearly. If the thrill of the mystery is what you're after, sure. I generally like a character-centric narrative, though. But I'm sure that's pretty obvious by now to anyone who regularly reads this blog. It's just a little unfortunate that my first book review wasn't a book where I'd have a bit more to say.

No comments:

Post a Comment