Note: a regular book review, this time of a detective story actually published before 1950, will be up in the next day or two. Stay tuned!
The concluding volume of Spiral – The Bonds of Reasoning has been looming at me from my desk ever since it arrived in the mail, but I find myself unable to pick up the book and burn through it at my usual breakneck speed – insatiable devouring all the answers that I have waited so many years for. But with the ending of another series, Hikaru no Go, which I enjoyed reading as much as Case Closed and Spiral, and the cancellation of Deadman's Wonderland, I'm practically left without series to read – not many regular series anyway.
So instead of greedily gobbling down this treat, I'm going to savor it for a few days and let it ripe – and meanwhile I have been sampling a potential replacement, Amnesia Labyrinth, which is described on the back cover as a new offbeat tale of murder and twisted love.
The Three Sisters
The protagonist and sometimes narrator of this series is a rather stereotypical manga character named Souji Kushiki, a reserved, good looking student from an affluent family who aces all his school tests and excels at sports, and has just returned home from an extended stay at an far-away boarding school – much to the delight of his three sisters, who are more than merely overjoyed when they learn of his return.
He enrolls into a local school, where he meets the incessantly energetic Sasai, who seems to know a good deal about his personal life, and learns from her that three of their fellow students were brutally murdered over the summer holiday – and she's determined to pick up the investigation where the police left off and wants to enlist his help in cracking the case.
Up till this point, the plot bears all the hallmarks of your typical high school murder mystery, in which two students try to connect the dots of a series of unusual crimes that are, in one way or another, linked to their school, but that's where the story, like Spiral, is deceptive in its initial appearance. However, where Spiral morphed into a clever and intriguing, multi-layered game of chess, the plot of Amnesia Labyrinth quickly distorts itself into a dark and twisted character driven crime story.
|The prodigal son returns home|
Souji's family life is one that will probably disturb many readers of this blog. His step-sister, Harumi, has a crush on him, but she's too shy to actually make a move on him, while his full-blooded sister, Youko, constantly wraps her arms around him and simply can't stop fondling with him and he actually has a sexual relationship with his half-sister, Saki, which they deem as normal. An already difficult family relationship, to say the least, strained by the fact that his sisters may be involved in the murders at his new school.
It's too early to say for sure which direction the series will eventually take, but as things stand now, it has all the potential to be either a total disaster, in a modernist, thrillerish kind of way, or a complete and welcome surprise. But in case of the latter, it pretty much all depend on how well the mystery elements of the plot will develop in the upcoming installments.
Amnesia Labyrinth is published by Seven Seas, and the second volume is lined up for a release in early June.
Final note: You can read a free sample of the first several pages on the website of the publisher. Remember: it's manga, so read right-to-left.