Higashino, Keigo. Malice.

NY: St. Martin, 2014.

This absorbing murder mystery was first published in Japan in 1996, where it was a bestseller. In fact, the author has become one of the most popular novelists in East Asia, with multiple TV and film adaptations of his work. I have to wonder why it took nearly two decades for his first novel to be translated into English.

I also have to say, it’s almost impossible to describe the plot, or even the setup, without a major risk of spoilers. Let’s try this: Kunihiko Hidaka, a bestselling author, is found murdered in his home by his young second wife and his good friend, Isamu Nonoguchi. The latter, also a writer, though much less successful, begins writing up notes on the following investigation.

The lead detective is Kyoichiro Kaga, who by pure coincidence was a teacher at the same middle school as Nonoguchi some years earlier, before either of them had switched careers. And Kaga is a very good detective, as he demonstrates again and again — and he will have to be very good to get to the bottom of all the layers in this crime.

It’s a straightforward narrative without a lot of “art,” which exactly suits the subject, but the character development is quite elaborate — and the reader will have to work all that out for himself.

I have kind of a weakness for modern Japanese fiction, especially detective stories, and this is one of the very best I’ve read in the past twenty years. Higashino has at least two more out now, one a major award-winner, and I’ll be lining them up on my “To Read” shelf.

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Published in: on 21 June 2016 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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