I almost feel sorry for not giving this book more than a three and a half stars. The locked room mystery and its solution was excellent and the insights into the Japanese tattoo culture was fascinating.
I had two specific problems with this book, though:
- I haven´t had have a sense of time and place throughout the entirety of the novel. The story is set in the year 1947 in war-ravaged Japan and the dialogue between the characters have an outdated feel and read like something written in the late 1940s. However, this novel had a contemporary feel to it and it that regard the dialogue felt incredibly disjointed and out of place. Not sure whether this is the fault of the book or the fault of the translation.
- The reader follows a character called Kenzo, an avid mystery reader / amateur sleuth. In the overall scheme of this novel, he is supposed to be a character like John Watson. But Kenzo lacks his Sherlock Holmes for most of the novel and only towards the last 50 pages of the mystery a Sherlock type of character is cropping up. And I´m sorry, but Watson without Holmes doesn´t work and there have been some chapters in the middle of this book that dragged considerably.
I would recommend this book to any locked room mystery enthusiasts. Even though this book has its flaws.