Every book I read by Haruki Murakami turns me into a bigger fan. There is a gentleness and pensiveness to his prose that tempers the often stark, painful directness of his characters and their situations. I have seen very few authors who so expertly and seamlessly combine modes, genres and moods within one story - and this is repeated in Wild Sheep Chase as in the other Murakami novels I've read so far. There's humor, there's passion and impulsiveness, there's long-standing devotion to a person or an idea, there's an unflinching attention to the realities of the human experience combined with whimsical yet dark fantasies of the mind that seep between the real and metaphysical.
Wild Sheep Chase, like many of his novels, is a detective story at heart - something also not-so-subtly alluded to as the character reads Sherlock Holmes. There is a mystery to be solved about a strange sheep, some secretive, sinister power-brokers, and a journey peppered with clues. However, the detective story is enveloped in reflections on the complex influences of history on individuals and communities, the tenuousness of perceived reality and the nefarious pull of the darkest reaches of the mind.