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Gradually obsessed by the possibility of a shadowy double, the elderly writer assays the demimonde, attempting to track down his doppelganger who gives every indication of having a life of his own. This is a book about perversion. It is stark, spare, and compulsively readable. Endo sounds like Greene--or rather, reads like Greene in translation. And this is true no matter who the translator may be and Endo has had five so far.

We are admitted to the arcana of human corruption. Amid the writhing and the stench we are brought to acknowledge the depths of our own depravity. Hypocrite lecteur, in addition to these elements, there is the Greene-like thrill, the ever-present razor edge of danger. It would be unfair, given such a plot, to divulge the resolution, for, although this is something more than a mystery story, it is surely nothing less than that. But it is a mystery that works on three levels--the narrative or old-fashioned plot level, the psychological level the mystery of human motivation and dreams , and the moral level.

But in Endo the psychological level has none of the comic-strip simplicity it tends toward in most mystery novels. Rather, we are brought face to face with real human beings attempting to grasp their profoundest problems. The moral level, too, is given to us in all its depths. The question of good and evil is put boldly, but nuanced by a lifetime of reflection. But he shakes the foundations without destroying the edifice.

All the same, we cannot doubt he is looking Evil full in the face, an old man standing up to the blasts of hell. The room at the lowest level is like the storeroom you have here in your home, Mari--it has all kinds of things stored up in it.

But never has he combined profundity with entertainment to such a degree, for a good mystery cannot fail to entertain. One can imagine the story as a successful film. His wife, too, seemed to be listening anxiously in the darkness. The sound impressed him as being like a groan from the depths of a human heart. The fathomless pit yawning at the bottom of that heart.

The echo of a wind coursing through that pit. Something he had not yet described in any of his novels. Hot Property. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options.


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