Book review: 『殺人鬼にまつわる備忘録』by Yasumi Kobayashi

殺人鬼にまつわる備忘録 (さつじんきに まつわる びぼうろく)
Title: 殺人鬼にまつわる備忘録 (さつじんきに まつわる びぼうろく)
Genre:
First published: 2018
Published: 2018
Format: Bunko
Page Count: 409
記憶が数十分しかもたない僕は、今、殺人鬼と戦っている(らしい)。信じられるのは、昨日の自分が、今日の自分のために書いたノートだけ。記憶がもたない男は殺人鬼を捕まえられるのか――。

Yasumi Kobayashi is an author of SF, horror and mystery novels. His novel『アリス殺し』is very popular in Korea (I have often seen it among the steady sellers), but I had never read Yasumi Kobayashi before.

Setting

Our protagonist, Nikichi Tamura, suffers from anterograde amnesia. He cannot create new memories and forgets everything new (what has happened, why he came where he is, what he wanted to do) after 10 minutes.

The 殺人鬼 mentioned in the title is a man who can inject new memories in other people’s mind.

Review

I enjoyed reading this book very much, but it was not what I expected. I think that I was misled by the cover which does not look like the cover of a suspenseful psycho-thriller. I thought this book would mainly be a realistic depiction of what it means to live with anterograde amnesia, and that it would simply have some kind of mystery element attached to it. It was the reverse: this book is mainly a suspenseful thriller that incorporates thoughts and elements linked to amnesia and memory.

I don’t mean to say that I was disappointed in the book. On the contrary, I was engrossed in it from beginning to end,

There are interesting thoughts about how our memory works and how much we can trust it. It also shows, through the character of the “殺人鬼” how much we rely on it, to the point where we can go against our interests, values and personality. The author asks the question: what would happen if someone could inject new memories in your train of thoughts? The answer really sent shivers down my spine!

(I happen to be reading The Body by Bill Bryson as I write this review, and I have just read the passage saying that “it is possible through suggestion to implant entirely false memories in people’s heads” (p.56), even convince people that they committed and were arrested for a crime in their youth, to the point where they actually recall the event and add “vivid incriminating details” to this imaginary past (see footnote 3). This is fascinating and scary! 😮😱)

If you are looking for a page-turner,『殺人鬼にまつわる備忘録』is exactly that. It is suspenseful, easy to read, has a lot of dialogues and also contains fascinating thoughts about memory. But be aware that it does contain violence and I found every scene related to the 殺人鬼 relatively disturbing… I even made a horrible nightmare clearly inspired by the book after reading it, haha!