Malice by Keigo Higashino #AsianLitBingo


My love affair with Japanese crime fiction continues with this beauty by Keigo Higashino who may be better known for his Detective Galileo series, which begins with The Devotion of Suspect X, a brilliant crime story.

Malice features a different police detective and his name is Detective Kaga. According to Wikipedia, this is the fourth book in the series but the first three don’t seem to have been translated into English as yet. 

The Galileo series has faired better in terms of publication, with three out of four being published. Hopefully more of Higashino’s works will be translated. 

Because he has such an amazing way with plot twists. 

(I will try my very best to avoid spoilers in this post.)

Bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found dead in his home. A paperweight has been used to bludgeon him. In case that wasn’t enough, he has also been strangled. 

His body is found by a fellow author, Osama Nonoguchi, who writes children’s books, and Hidaka’s wife Rie. 

Hidaka was in his locked office. He and his wife, whom he had recently married, had been about to make their move to Vancouver, Canada, to start life anew. 

This is quite a puzzle for Detective Kyoichiro Kaga, who happens to have known Nonoguchi when they were both teachers. 

What is especially intriguing in this mystery novel is that the guilty party is arrested early on in the story. But Detective Kaga continues to puzzle over the case and digs far deeper and deeper until he finally figures it out. 

I loved the plot of this story. It’s hard to talk about it without giving much away. It definitely made me sit up in awe of the way Higashino twists and turns his plot around.

Malice was a quick read and it was entertaining with its plot puzzle. But I think Higashino’s other books like Under the Midnight Sun and Devotion of Suspect X are better reads, more elegantly written, than this one which, while decently written, wasn’t quite as stellar. 

Higashino nonetheless is one Japanese crime author I always look out for. I just wish I wasn’t at the mercy of American publishers and the way they pick whichever books to translate! 

I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – East Asian MC

Salvation of a Saint – Keigo Higashino

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Sometimes, it’s as important to prove there is no answer to a question as it is to answer it.’

Having read two Higashino books in these recent months, I cannot help but marvel at how he keeps the reader, well, reading.

Especially with a detective/crime story that is so quiet and relatively uneventful compared to many others out there which are more action packed. That makes it sound like nothing happens in this book but that is not true.

There is a death. A man is dead, poisoned by arsenous acid, likely something he drank in his coffee. A woman, his wife’s employee, is the one who found him. His wife Ayane is the main suspect – her husband had told her that he was leaving her for another woman – but she was hundreds of miles away at the time. What about Hiromi, the one who found him? It’s a locked-room mystery and Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi is on the case. But he is smitten with Ayane, and unable to believe that she has anything to do with her husband’s death. His assistant, Kaoru Utsumi, believes otherwise. And so, she seeks the help of Professor Manabu Yukawa, a physicist whom Kusanagi often ropes in to help out, except now the two of them seem to have had a bit of a quarrel.

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It’s one of those crime stories where possibilities are tossed around, then shot down. Compared to other crime cases, this one seems rather simple. A man poisoned. And you pretty much know who did it, but the how is really just something you try to puzzle out, along with the detectives on the case.

Salvation of a Saint is a far quieter story than the last Higashino I read, Under the Midnight SunBut I enjoyed it for its intriguing details, its puzzle of a crime and the way Higashino’s ‘villains’ are often themselves victims.

The thing with reading translated works is having to wait for translations to emerge from publishers. This series with Kusanagi and Yukawa is known as the Detective Galileo series. The Devotion of Suspect X (a very good read) is the first in the series, Salvation of a Saint is the second. The third book, A Midsummer’s Equation, (published in 2011) was just released in English earlier this year. It is really confusing! The Devotion of Suspect X is book 3 in the series, but Salvation of a Saint is book 5, A Midsummer’s Equation is book 6. At least according to Goodreads. But when I check Wikipedia I realize that some of the books are classified as short stories, so book 4 (which I now guess to be in terms of publishing order) is a short story, so perhaps that is why the English language publishers decided to skip it? Confused! Also, disappointed! I would love to read his short stories too. Higashino also has another series called the Detective Kaga series, but so far only one of those has been translated into English, called Malice. And once again, the English language publisher has picked a book in the middle of the series, in publishing order, this is book number 4. As I cannot read Japanese, I am at the mercy of publishers who would be willing to have his work translated!

RIP XI: Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino

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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 Xin 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.

 

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I read this book for Readers Imbibing in Peril XI

(here’s the link to the review site)

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