Civilisation blows itself apart in a nuclear war, and a small party of survivors begin their new life in an isolated Swiss hotel. Only one of them may be a murderer…
Reading a premise like that, you’d think this was a murder-mystery. Reading reviews on the back that say this is like “Ten Little Indians” you’d think the twenty guests would drop like murdered flies every night. You’d think the other guests would flitter and scurry about the hotel in fear of their lives.
There’s more of a Lord of The Flies feel to what’s going on.
But no…there’s actually only one murder, and the only person who cares is the narrator. There’s more of a Lord of The Flies feel to what’s going on. How do you construct a civilisation in miniature? Who decides: death penalty or exile for a crime when there are no police or courts to take the burden? There are also existential conversations on the nature of religion, both as a source of comfort and as a source of antagonism.
There are conversations about what happens when every single thing you love and work for has disappeared in a nuclear fire…who do you become after that? Some good explorations on the different natures of shock and trauma. Some guests give up, some hoard and prepare, while others obsess to the point of mania.
So most certainly not a murder-mystery, and I find it odd it was ever advertised as such. In a typical rolling-eyes-give-me-a-break murder mystery move though, the murder is resolved in the last five pages with information we didn’t have. The main drive of the story feels like a casually thrown in afterthought.
Stereotypes fill the hotel: A Japanese woman is described as delicate and graceful, speaking with a calm voice; the black security guard is aggressive and the dominant male; the beautiful woman is a loner and a bitch.
Character dialogues became indistinguishable from each other.
Towards the last thirty pages, the plot became unravelled and started to break. Character dialogues became indistinguishable from each other as it hurried towards a weak anti-climax.
What started out as a solid and intriguing idea ran out of steam in the second act and rolled to a complete stop by the end. There’s a curious note added to the end as potentially a sequel hook, but I won’t be looking out for it.
Have you ever read a book advertised as one genre when it’s not? Let me know!