Book review: 『密室に向かって撃て!』 by Tokuya Higashigawa

Introduction

Title: 『密室に向かって撃て!』(みっしつにむかってうて)
Author: Tokuya HIGASHIGAWA (東川篤哉)
Published by 光文社文庫
354 pages

This is the second book in the series 烏賊川市 (Ikagawa), a humoristic, detective series. It is best to read the book in order as the second book refers to the first one at numerous times.

Short Review

Fans of the series and fans of the detective genre will enjoy it, but there are a lot of repetitions, and the humoristic scenes tend to take over the story at the cost of a more engrossing investigation.

Long Review

As much as I loved the first book of the series (密室の鍵貸します), I was a little disappointed in this second book.

Before starting this review, let me say that there are a lot of recurring characters in this second novel, and the book keeps hinting at what happened in the first novel 『密室の鍵貸します』. Fortunately, it does not reveal the solution to the first book, but it does reveals some developments that happen pretty late in the story, so I heartily recommend that you read this series in order.

As a fan of the first book, I was happy to meet the main characters of 密室の鍵貸します again in this second book. However, I found that the tone of the series had changed towards more humoristic scenes.

What bothered me is that some scenes are there in the unique purpose of being funny, but they don’t bring anything to the case. In the first novel, it was the way the investigation was conducted that was funny. It was the way it was told that brought humour to the detective story, not random scenes. In this novel however, we find ourselves with dialogues and situations that are introduced for humoristic purpose but slow down the pace of the novel.

I also found that the story takes forever to kick off. If you have read and enjoyed the first book of the series, you will still enjoy meeting the characters again and spend time with them, but still… I wish that we would get in the heart of the story quicker.

As for the investigation, it was good, but here again, I found that the importance given to comical effects hurt the “detective novel” part of the book. What I love the most in this series is how it breaks with codes of the genre: detective Ukai is not so much a 名探偵 as a 迷探偵, but I found that this concept was pushed to extremes here. As a result, I felt more frustrated than entertained, even though I had found this mechanic very exciting in the first novel.

Finally, there are a lot of repetitions in the story. I felt that the characters kept explaining the developments of the night of the murder over and over again.

To conclude, this novel is more on the humoristic side whereas the first one was more focused on the mystery side, which suited me better. The humour did not always work for me, and the tone was a little too light for my liking. This being said, it was overall an enjoyable read, and I will certainly continue the series.