The Labyrinth of the Scriptorium by Hitoshi GotoCan I just take a moment to say--cool title!! I have spent many hours pondering why mystery/thriller genre titles do not amuse me (I know, I know, what sane person wastes hours pondering such things?--a bookworm). Modern mystery writers are too glitzy. That is what I came up with in the end. The stories now are so focused on some action or racy, edgy detail to set their mystery apart from every other best seller. The world is getting faster, and our attention spans are getting shorter. No one seems to care if you know who-dun'it by the third chapter as long as it was a fun ride.
Now there is every possibility that some of this novel got lost in the translation, but I have a gut feeling that it is all very accurate. From the style of writing, it just seems to a have an easy ability to cross the language barrier. Goto is taking his narrative point from the great Sherlock Holmes detective writing. A mystery of layers and complexity. Open clues and hints amidst such detailed scene building. I got to the end of the story so perplexed I wasn't even sure which mystery I was trying to solve.
The whole story is a Russian nesting doll of mysteries. I have to admit I completely lost track of the details in such a good way. Some readers may find this to be too much. This is not light, entertaining filler. This is an honest-to-goodness brain tickler. You really have to think about what you are reading. You can even tell when something being presented in the narrative is clearly an important detail, yet you have no one idea who the murderer is at the end.
Then he up and went with ending it solving a small fraction of one of the inner mysteries instead of the big reveal. That we will get in his second novel. Which frustratingly mixed news: it has been written but I have been unable to find any indication on a translation. Egad! It will be hard to recommend this to anyone like myself that gets hooked on having to know. If you can be satisfied with the resolution of a mini mystery and would enjoy a good stretch of the brain muscle, by all means, pick this up. It will be worth it.