A collection of people alone on an isolated island on a treasure hunt. Yup, that’s going to end well…
Three students from the Mystery Club of Eito University travel to the aforementioned island, where a collection of Moai statues hold the secret to a hidden treasure. But one of them, Maria, has a history with the island – her cousin Hideto drowned three years previously – and the spectre of death is hanging over the island.
Eleven people are gathered together, but soon, two of them are found shot to death in a room locked from the inside. As the mysteries grow, another death occurs. Can our heroes – and the reader – deduce the killer?
A clear homage to the Ellery Queen school of detection, even including A Challenge To The Reader before the final reveal, this is a very different book to the other example of honkaku that I’ve read, The Decagon House Murders, which was much more entertaining, intended as more of a pastiche/homage to And Then There Was None.
For a change, here’s some alternative opinions to mine – JJ, at the Invisible Event; Martin Edwards, as Do You Write Under Your Own Name and TomCat over at Beneath The Stains Of Time. All three of them loved this book. You may well want to take their advice, rather than mine.
Me? I found it a little dull to be honest. I never got a feel for the characters, and while the locked room rationale was interesting, at the end of the day, I found myself not particularly caring whodunit or why. I suppose as an homage to Ellery Queen, it’s been put together as a near-pure puzzle, but it came up short to Queen in my opinion, as it was lacking any whiff of humour.
Do take a look at what my fellow bloggers thought of it – it does seem that I’m in a minority (again) with this one. But I can’t really bring myself to Recommend it myself.
While we obviously disagree on the merits of this, I can see where you come from: it has that Queenian air of something you either buy into and are completely sept up in, or you’re left a little cold by it all. I’d be surprised if there was much middle ground here, actually, I really can’t see anyone coming away going “Yeah, it was okay, I guess…”.
Slightly off-topic – have you read anything by Noel Vindry (from the same publisher – a thin connection, I know)?
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[…] The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawu. Just didn’t click for me, but fans of the pure puzzle seem to enjoy it. But despite being a big fan of those early Ellery Queen books, this one just seemed flat and rather dull to me… […]
I’m with the Doc here. Aside from the missing humour it also lacks Queen’s panache. I liked this much less than Decagon House, which cheats IMO, but cheats with style, and is much better with mood, or the Tokyo Zodiac, which has style and panache to spare.
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