by 小林 泰三 (Yasumi Kobayashi)
Author: 小林 泰三 (Yasumi Kobayashi)
Japanese Level: JLPT N2
Genre: Fantasy, murder mystery
English Summary (translation by Japanese Talk Online)
Kurisugawa Ari has been dreaming about Alice in Wonderland a lot. After she sees a dream where Humpty Dumpty is falls to his death she sees Tamago, a nickname of one of the research students, fall off the college roof to his death. After dreaming the Griffin chokes to death on oysters a professor unexpectedly dies of shellfish. The deaths in her dream and the deaths in reality are connected. But the March Hare and Mad Hatter investigating the case in Wonderland think the culprit is Alice. In order to find the real culprit and clear her name, Ari must team up with another student who dreams of Wonderland, Imori. In this authentic murder mystery painted in a dark fairy tale.
Why You Should Read アリス殺し
Alice Koroshi is a mystery novel unlike any other for several reasons. First, this murder mystery happens in two linked world, “ours” and “Alice in Wonderland”, where the death of a “version” of you in one will cause your death in the other.
The second unique thing about this novel is it’s almost entirely dialogue!
In Alice Koroshi we follow two aspects of the same person, Alice of Wonderland and Ari a postgrad student at Nakanojima University. When Ari wakes up from a dream about Humpty Dumpty being murdered in Wonderland she realizes that it’s linked to the death of Ouji, nicknamed Tamago, in her world. After teaming up with Imori/Bill she must find out who in which world is murdering people and why, before she’s next!
I could not put this book down. The murder mystery element was really clever with the connection between the two worlds and I verbally gasped very loudly multiple times (especially towards the end).
One other reason I couldn’t put it down was because it was so easy to read. The fact that most of the novel is dialogue means scenes flow well and fluidly. There were a few times I was unsure who was speaking, but the book does a good job signaling who’s talking for the most part.
The Alice in Wonderland spin on the story also means a lot of the dialogue has clever wordplay and puns. A character will say one thing and another will misinterpret it and twist the logic around.
It does help to know the original story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. My only exposure was the Disney movie and an old pop-up book, and although that did a good job teaching me the bones of the story I still had to look up a couple of characters to find out who they were and how they fit into the original story.
Why Japanese Learners Should Read アリス殺し
One of the fun things about this novel is the wordplay. If you’re a fan of the manga Sirokuma Café (about a polar bear working in a café), then I think you’ll like this.
But despite the wordplay it is incredibly easy to read. The dialogue means there’s not a lot of difficult grammar and not a lot of text on the page, so you’ll find yourself flying through this book.
There is some weird or archaic vocabulary/kanji, such as 懇願（こんがん）”to plead” and 間抜け（まぬけ）”foolish”. As well as some words related to the world of Alice in Wonderland that you might not come across elsewhere like 蜥蜴（とかげ）”lizard”, 海象（せいうち）”walrus”, 牡蠣（かき）”oyster”. But there aren’t that many. I have a vocabulary list of about 47 words at the end of this book.
If you’re interested in a fun, twisty murder mystery that takes you on a wild ride while teaching you about fun homonyms, then this is the book for you!
It’s honestly one of my favourite books of the year and I highly recommend it to everyone.
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