I finished reading the three stories of the book 「放送禁止」by 長江俊和 (ながえとしかず), and it was much better than I thought it might be. First of all, I should say that the three short stories in the book are a written adaptation of the TV series of the same name. If you prefer to watch the TV version, then it’s better not to read the book first.
The stories are all told from the point of view of a reporter who is filming a documentary. The reader sees the things through the camera and listens to what the protagonists have to say during their interview or while the reporter films their daily life.
First, I thought that it would be more some kind of horror stories that keep you awake at night. Therefore, I was surprised to see that they are not at all “horror” stories, even though I could imagine that the TV series might be scarier than the book. To me, they were more mysteries, involving social topics (family violence, stocker, suicide). It is neither violent nor bloody, and it does not involve supernatural elements (though it may seem so at some point).
More complex than it looks like
At the end of each story, I thought: oh well, this is an unsolved mystery then… But I looked at explanations on the internet and was baffled to see that I had completely overlooked capital information and that the mysteries could be solved by a careful reader.
The stories are very short, but they do give a lot of hints right from the beginning. Just reading the stories without trying to solve the mystery is pleasant in itself, but knowing that you can find clues to understand the ending is even more exciting.
Here are the links to a blog where I found explanations for each of the story in the book (the explanations are for the TV version, but it makes almost no difference):
To me, this book did what it was supposed to do: give the reader a pleasant distraction without asking much effort from him. The book is really easy to read, and it is hard to put it down once you began a story. There is no difficult vocabulary or long sentences; the stories are short; and the chapters inside each story are short too, which makes it easy to read for non-native readers. However, I could not have found certain hints, even if I had paid attention to them. I don’t know if they are supposed to be easily found by native or if they were tricky.
An extract from the prologue. Before the stories begin, we are told about the TV programs that are filmed but never broadcasted:
Reference: 「放送禁止」、 長江俊和 、角川ホラー文庫、p.8