When faced with a massive tome like this one, my instinct is to ignore it for a while. But massive tomes loom no matter where they are kept, so I had to pick it up and see what Higashino had so much to write about this time.
Because boy does he have the strangest of ideas. Like in The Devotion of Suspect X, where he successfully leads the reader around. Because the story is not about the person who does the killing (we already know that right at the start) but in how the neighbour (who helps cover up) and a physicist brought in to help with the case duke it out in a battle of wits.
Under the Midnight Sun opens with a dead body in an abandoned building. It is Osaka and it is 1973.
Wait, no. The book actually opens first with Detective Sasagaki on his way to the crime scene and stopping to grab some grilled squid from a tiny shop. I like the details that Higashino adds to his detective. That he stops and has a snack before proceeding to his job.
But the problem is, no one can make head or tail of this murder. The police are unable to find the killer. They chase some leads but nothing concrete comes out of it. The case is abandoned.
Years later, Sasagaki cannot forget the case. The victim’s strange son Ryo and Yukiho, the breathtakingly beautiful daughter of one of the suspects.
It can be hard to follow this book, which skips around among characters and sometimes rewinds to explain things. It was originally serialized in a magazine – which explains its episodic nature. But as characters are introduced, more events unfurl, eventually the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to unveil the big picture. With 500 pages it takes a while before Higashino makes his big reveal. This is a bit different from The Devotion of Suspect X, in which the killer is revealed from the start. But it is no less intriguing and exciting a read. In fact it was just such an unputdownable book that I gulped it down, ignoring the other books I was reading at that time, completely absorbed in this complex web that Higashino was weaving for the reader.
Read this book for two very compelling characters, who seem to have no connection to each other yet whose lives are intertwined. Read this book for one very persistent detective convinced that everyone took a wrong turn too early, led astray somehow. Read this also for the way Higashino takes the reader through Japan in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, from office life, to school, to technology.
I received this book from Minotaur Books.
I read this book for Readers Imbibing in Peril XI
(here’s the link to the review site)