There are a few misleading things about this book to get out of the way first.
The structure: This is not a novel. This book consists of short stories with a central unnamed narrator (for the most part) who, along with one other character are a part of every story in some way. The description on the back of the book is HIGHLY misleading, as it only describes the first story. It was a little confusing for me, so hopefully that helps other people!
The title: I'm just going to let you know the title doesn't really have anything to do with the book. It is mentioned in one of the stories that a character dresses in the goth style (black clothes, heavy eyeliner, pale skin—you know the type) but other than that, it really is just a cool title. The author even quips about it in his afterword, which I highly recommend reading.
Now, let's get down to the good stuff. This is a disturbingly creepy book. For the most part, the reader is inside the mind of an unnamed narrator who is obviously a sociopath with strange, violent fantasies. He has a fascination with the dark and macabre, to the point of starting his own amateur investigations into the strange murders, missing pets, and other weird happenings that go on in his town.
Sometimes involving the strange girl in class that no one wants to be friends with and sometimes investigating on his own, this narrator has a knack for uncovering other people's weird and dark secrets. But he doesn't want to turn them into the police or really get too involved at all. Instead, he just wants to know the truth or sometimes influence the situation to his liking (or just to see if he can).
The cold almost clinical way the narrator views the horrific scenes he encounters creates a stark contrast between expectation and reality. To the reader, it is crazy and gruesome, but to him, it is like watching insects in a glass jar—even as he grapples with serial killers.
Otsuichi's writing (and/or the translation) is very clean, not a lot of fluff or overwrought detail. He gets right to the point with clear descriptions of what
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.