I won’t lie; when I first heard of Keigo Higashino, a great deal of my interest was piqued due to the fact that the English translation of The Devotion of Suspect X, his mystery novel, was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel. While Scandi thrillers have been taking the literary world by storm ever since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and not to say I haven’t very much enjoyed them), sometimes one needs a little break from all the snow and cold and more snow. Also, I’m a bit ashamed to say, I had never read a Japanese mystery before.
Detective Kusanagi is the conduit by which we meet “Detective Galileo,” Higashino’s very own Sherlock Holmes–a prominent physicist at Teito University, who occasionally acts as a consultant on Kusunagi’s cases. Galileo (his nickname) and his scientific and logic-based brand of crime solving contrasts quite nicely with Kusanagi’s old fashioned pavement pounding, particularly as the two are not so fond of each other as they used to be in their old college days.
However, for me, the main attraction of this book is the unfamiliar Japanese cultural customs. It is the rigid formality ingrained in every social interaction–a new wrinkle in the police / suspect / witness relationship, quite different from anything I’ve read before. It is the societal construct that dictates what is spoken and shared with strangers (hardly anything) and what is implied by those silences. It is how female assistant detective Kaoru Utsumi is treated compared to her male counterparts.
The two books follow two different mysteries of very different sorts and what keeps me coming back to Higashino’s mysteries is the thought and the effort put into building and presenting a refreshing and new mystery story each time. A mystery that is both substantial and fulfilling when you reach the end. It’s at least worth picking up the first in the series and looking forward to what’s next from Higashino.