Friday, October 16, 2009

Promenade Of The Gods, by Koji Suzuki

(hb; 2003, 2008: translated by Takami Nieda)


Caveat - (possible) spoilers in this review.

Shirow Murakami, a thirty-something slacker-ish teacher, begins investigating the disappearance of his close boyhood friend (Kunio Matsuoka), with help from Kunio's wife, Miyuki.

Shirow and Miyuki soon find out that others -- including Ryoko Kano, a television actress -- have also disappeared, in much the same manner. More than that, Ryoko and Kunio may be somehow linked to an obscure polytheistic religion ("Halo of Heaven and Earth") whose roots began in the later years of World War II, before going underground after 1986. . .

What have the cult members really been doing these past nine years? (It's 1995.) And why are they, seemingly dormant all these years, suddenly back in the Halo fold?

Promenade, like Suzuki's other stateside-published works, is tightly plotted, character-focused, with surreality peppering the clever plot.

Despite these promising elements, this is a disappointing, style-over-substance read from Suzuki. It's ordinary, not distinctive like Suzuki's other works.

Not only that, the mystery surrounding the cult -- not much to begin with -- will probably be figured by most readers long before the novel's dramatic-but-ultimately-limp finish.

This is for hardcore Suzuki fans only. If you don't fall into that category, skip this one.

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