The Moai Island Puzzle

Alice Arisugawa, trans. from the Japanese by Ho-Ling Wong. Locked Room International, $19.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-523935-13-0
College student Alice Arisugawa, the namesake narrator of this artful locked-room whodunit from Arisugawa (Mystery of Brazilian Butterfly), is a member of a club devoted to mystery fiction at Kyoto’s Eito University. Alice has a chance to tackle a real-life mystery after accepting an invitation from classmate Maria Arima to visit the island of Kashikijima, populated with 25 moai sculpted heads resembling those of Easter Island. The statues were erected on Kashikijima by Maria’s eccentric grandfather, whose will revealed that he’d buried diamonds worth 500 million yen on the island. The jewels remain hidden, although Maria’s cousin Hideto claimed to be close to finding them three years earlier, shortly before he drowned. Hideto’s theory—that the key to the puzzle lies in deciphering the arrangement of the moai—intrigues Alice and Maria, but they find themselves with an impossible murder to resolve as well. The authorial challenge to the reader before the final revelation is eminently fair, given the thoughtful concealment of the clues. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/11/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
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