A Midsummers Equation, detective galileo, detective stories, japanese literature, journey under the midnight sun, keiigo higashino, malice, naoko, salvation of a saint, the devotion of suspect x, The Name Of The Game Is Kidnapping
Most people outside Japan know Higashino as that Japanese dude who wrote The Devotion Of Suspect X. They probably haven’t read anything else by him and probably don’t even know that there are amazing books out there by him. His latest book, A Midsummer’s Equation, is releasing July this year and I thought it was the perfect time to introduce you to this author, if you didn’t know he existed, or his other works which are as good, if not better, than Suspect X.
I read Salvation of a Saint after reading Devotion. It was brilliant as well but not as much as X. The story is about the murder of Yoshitaka whose wife, a gentle and soft spoken woman, is suspected of murder but she has a rock solid alibi. This is another Detective series so naturally Detective Kusanagi is the one investigating the case. And he, like others, refuses to believe that she could have committed the crime. As usual Keigashino takes us through a plethora of suspects and theories before handing us the criminal in a beautifully packaged gift box. His intelligence is amazing and the way he researches and weaves a story makes the impossible seem possible, yet again.
After that I grabbed Naoko. It was ridiculously expensive (still is) but I wanted more Higashino so I waited till my birthday and got it. This follows a ordinary salaryman, Heisuke who loses his wife in an accident. Both his wife, Naoo, and child, Monami, were travelling to visit relatives when the they have a catastrophic accident which he witnesses on TV after coming back to a home cooked meal that his wife has left behind for him. Relieved that he still has his daughter he waits for her to wake up from her coma. But when she wakes up she has Naoko’s mind and to prove it beyond a doubt, she knows things only Naoko would know. What a brilliant premise, one that has been done to death now but was fresh at the time he wrote this. This one was particularly different but still mysterious with his trademark feel of something being hidden in plain sight. This was also the winner of the Japanese Mystery Writer’s Award in 1999.
Then came Malice. Oh I connected with this more than the ones before. It seems more difficult to solve than the ones before but of course everything fits perfectly at the end. The thing with Higashino is that he tells you who the criminal is within the first few chapters, that is his trademark style. So there aren’t any spoilers. The actual brilliance is not the who, like in Agatha Christie/Sherlock Holmes novels, it is the How. And god knows I love a good how. (I promise I’m not planning any murders.)
This follows an investigation of the murder of a bestselling author, Kunihiko Hidaka. And Higashino brings in the famous “within a locked room” situation here. “Acclaimed bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found brutally murdered in his home on the night before he’s planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver. His body is found in his office, a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. Or so it seems.” The last people who see him are his best friend and his wife. The detective realises soon that the friendships and relationships are not as they seem and the real story begins to unfurl. I really enjoyed this having a lot of writer friends myself (I promise I’m not planning on killing anyone) and being privy to a lot of “damn she’s a bestseller now” conversations.
Journey Under the Midnight Sun is the last book I read and it killed me like nothing else has. In fact it’s also been made into a movie AND a TV show, both of which are great, TV show is better than the movie. Don’t watch the shows without reading the book, it gives away the ending in the very first scene. This was actually the longest of his books that I’ve read and it was also the best. It is supposed to be his Japanese bestseller (like how X is an intl bestseller) and was also a Naoki Prize nominee. Check out the synopsis here.
Releasing in July from Hachette (in India) is A Midsummer’s Equation which is the 6th book in the Detective Galileo series. (They aren’t releasing this in order, X is DG 3, Salvation is DG 5 and a different detective series, Kyoichiro Kaga 4) I hope they release the entire Detective Galileo series soon.
Manabu Yukawa, the physicist known as “Detective Galileo,” has traveled to Hari Cove, a once-popular summer resort town that has fallen on hard times. He is there to speak at a conference on a planned underwater mining operation, which has sharply divided the town. One faction is against the proposed operation, concerned about the environmental impact on the area, known for its pristine waters. The other faction, seeing no future in the town as it is, believes its only hope lies in the development project.
The night after the tense panel discussion, one of the resort’s guests is found dead on the seashore at the base of the local cliffs. The local police at first believe it was a simple accident-that he wandered over the edge while walking on unfamiliar territory in the middle of the night. But when they discover that the victim was a former policeman and that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, they begin to suspect he was murdered, and his body tossed off the cliff to misdirect the police.
As the police try to uncover where Tsukahara was killed and why, Yukawa finds himself enmeshed in yet another confounding case of murder. In a series of twists as complex and surprising as any in Higashino’s brilliant, critically acclaimed work, Galileo uncovers the hidden relationship behind the tragic events that led to this murder.
It sounds as exciting as the rest and I can’t wait to get my Higashino fix as soon as possible. Have I convinced you to check out this author or do you need more facts? More? Ok then. Not only is he a mystery writer but he was also the 13th President of the Mystery Writers Of Japan for five years. He’s had 7 books translated into English out of which six are feature here. The seventh one, titled The Name Of The Game Is Kidnapping, is being readied for translation and release this year by the amazing Alexander O Smith. He’s received/ben nominated for 10 Japanese awards, 5 American awards and 1 French award. He’s released more than 50 books in Japanese and you know what that means? It means more books to be released!!!
*Each picture has been taken with props that mean something to the story, I didn’t have anything for Naoko except an old ring. If you’ve read the book you know what each prop means to the story.