Wow. So this was not interesting at all. I finished this morning and was bored senseless. There are elements that remind me a bit of the "The Tokyo Zodiac Murders" with the author throwing down a gauntlet asking the reader to solve, but I had no idea who did it and the resolution at the end was way too "talky." It didn't help that the author, Alice Arisugawa, put himself in this book as a character. Way too surreal for me and I just got glad to be done with it.
"The Maoi Island Puzzle" follows three students (Alice, Maria, and Jiro) from Eito University that travel to a remote island that is populated by moai statues. Alice and Jiro are hoping to solve a puzzle that leads to treasure that was left by Maria's grandfather. However, two murders happen almost right away and are then followed by other murders.
Alice is a main character in this book and is part of his university's mystery club. This was brought up in "The Decagon House Murders" with Japanese students putting together mystery clubs that read and discussed British golden age mystery novelists like Christie, Doyle, and others. Alice isn't developed very well. He really is there just to be a Watson to a character who is pretty much the Holmes (Jiro) who needs Alice around to tell him how he is wrong about aspects of the murders. I don't know why I can read Sherlock Holmes novels and not get annoyed by this, but this was just aggravating to read. Alice being a Watson just didn't work for me.
The other members of the club who appear in this one are a student named Maria and then another member named Jiro. Maria is the one that invites the members to the island since her family has a villa there. I can't say much about either of them, because they are not developed very well.
The writing wasn't that great and the dialogue was very stilted I found. I am sure part of this is a translation issue. The writing just felt very fake at times. I also have to say I guessed the murder right away because there was no way it could be anyone else. There are some maps that are included, but I just didn't even care at that point. The flow was awful because the author chose to focus on details that didn't really matter. I was just so bored.
I usually like locked room mysteries but this was just not my favorite.