This mystery novel is set in an isolated research center on a privately owned island. A murder occurs in the sub-basement of a building with no windows, in a sealed room used as a prison cell for one brilliant computer scientist, Dr. Magata, who killed her parents as a child. No one and nothing has gone in or out for 15 years without being closely monitored. The book is at the limit for how creepy I would prefer, but the focus is mostly on solving how the event occurred and a bit about the relationship between Professor Saikawa and college freshman Moe.
I happen to be a software developer, so the focus on code and computer systems is fun. I read comments in reviews that the technical jargon can be hard to follow, but luckily for me that was the easy part. If that is not your thing, the story is still understandable and interesting without it. Also, it was written in 1996, so for some of us it can be quite nostalgic.
Generally the writing style is very direct without interludes about the weather or other types of transitions. Many transitions are handled by Professor Saikawa lighting up another cigarette, making you wonder if this was sponsored by a tobacco company! Overall it is easy to read without any dialects or too many idioms, but it is quite a long book.
This shosetsu is the first in of a series of 10. Besides that, Mori is very prolific. He started out as an Architectural Engineering Professor at Nagoya University, so I expect more mysteries with a technical twist. I’m excited I found this book, and I’m looking forward to reading more.