Tag Archives: Keigo Higashino

Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino. Translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith with Joseph Reeder.

Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo HigashinoTitle: Under the Midnight Sun
Author: Keigo Higashino
Translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith with Joseph Reeder
Publisher: Minotaur Books
ISBN: 978-1250105790
Genre: Literary Thriller
Pages: 560
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Literary thrillers are hard to come by. Let me rephrase this: Good literary thrillers are hard to come by and thank God for Keigo Higashino. I was a fan the minute I finished reading “The Devotion of Suspect X” and then when I read “Salvation of a Saint” I knew I would continue reading whatever he would dish, no matter how good or bad. I think it has got to do with the atmosphere that is built in his novels, and that is so important for a good thriller. The right kind of setting – the fog if necessary, the ambience of the hotel maybe or just describing a regular street. He is a master at that, bordering noir, if there could be Japanese noir (given most of their literature is dark anyway) and almost surpasses himself in it.

“Under the Midnight Sun” is a big book at 560 pages. But at no point do you feel overwhelmed or intimidated reading it, because of its size. The story is so gripping that you want to turn the pages no matter how late it is at night or for that matter early morning. In Osaka, in 1973, the body of a murdered man is found in an abandoned building. Detective Sasagaki is unable to find the murderer. In all of this, the lives of two teenagers – Ryo and Yukiho get embroiled which will leave the reader shocking and gasping for breath as the end of the book nears.

Higashino in this one is mainly concentrating on the aftermath of a crime. Twenty years have passed and it is 1993 and how the teenagers then are impacted by the crime that took place. Why must they get impacted you ask? Well because one of them is the child of the one who got killed and the other the child of the killer. The psychological impact then – as they strive to find the truth behind the killing and how Sasagaki gets involved again is spine-chilling.

Higashino doesn’t mince words while writing. Everything is crystal clear and the way it is supposed to be. The plot while threadbare, as you go along keeps getting layers added to it, which doesn’t really let it remain threadbare for long. The characters are etched to accuracy and no one has received more or less print time. “Under the Midnight Sun” is a feast for any lover of pulp fiction.

Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Abacus Books, Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0349138732
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 384
Source: Blog Adda
Rating: 5/5

I love Japanese writers. Be it Murakami or the atmosphere created by Kobo Abe, or the prose of Junichiro Tanizaki, Japanese writers know their craft. Japanese novels of mystery and horror provide space to ponder the darker recesses of humanity.

Japanese mystery novels are not restricted to mystery alone. They explore the nature of humanity very subtly and make readers think about them as well. Mystery writer Keigo Higashino is currently one of the best-selling authors in Japan. Reading “The Devotion of Suspect X” provides understanding of his popularity and the reader knows exactly why the acclaim is only rightfully due. Higashino’s prose is both quietly poetic and noir-like adding to the fact that there is so much happening in the book. It almost reminded me of Dashiell Hammett and James M.Cain’s works.

The plot: Tetsuya Ishigami is a mathematics teacher with a boring routine. His unsuccessful attempts to motivate visibly bored and apathetic students discourage Ishigami, and his one true passion of solving a complex mathematical formula, lies outside of the classroom within the confines of his small apartment.

His life dramatically changes when Yasuko and her daughter Misato introduce themselves as his new neighbors. He imagines a fantasy life with them, listening to mother and daughter through the thin apartment walls and that is where the sinister perspective sets into the book. Within this context, Ishigami surprisingly exhibits a fierce desire to protect both mother and daughter, and so begins a bizarre tale that originates with the unexpected arrival of Yasuko’s nefarious ex-husband Togashi, which leads to murder and its revelation. The Devotion of Suspect X refers to Tetsuya’s life and how his devotion towards the mother and daughter is so great, almost bordering obsession.

In this book, several protagonists go through significant psychological deterioration as well, and I would have to say that Higashino is a match for Dostoevsky in how he works these transformations. There is this strange sembelance to The Brothers Karamazov in the sense of the way it is structured and how some linear narratives also get added in-between.

Higashino has a superb sense of place for Tokyo. Of course that is also because he is a resident. However, having said that, there are a number of repetitive paths taken by numerous characters, and by the end of the book, you will feel as if you have walked them as well. He also knows how to describe the sciences and what he does with the plot. I loved the structure of the novel – it was crisp and to the point. Higashino never once beats around the bush, which can happen when writing a mystery novel. More so the translation worked just fine for me as well.

I liked the way the Japanese line of thought was kept intact and the reader can almost sense the points of pure Japanese mystery, all thanks to the translator Alexander O. Smith. This is surprisingly the third mystery in the series written by the author, and this is probably the first translation amongst them. I am sure that more will be translated considering this one’s success. I enjoyed this read a lot, having completed it in one night. The Devotion of Suspect X is a kick-ass thriller/mystery and more books like these should be published, read and enjoyed by all.
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