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, in 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.
Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga recognizes Hidaka’s best friend. Years ago when they were both teachers, they were colleagues at the same high school. Kaga went on to join the police force while Osamu Nonoguchi left to become a full-time writer, though with not nearly the success of his friend Hidaka. But Kaga thinks something is a little bit off with Nonoguchi’s statement and investigates further, ultimately executing a search warrant on Nonoguchi’s apartment. There he finds evidence that shows that the two writers’ relationship was very different than the two claimed. Nonoguchi confesses to the murder, but that’s only the beginning of the story. In a brilliantly realized tale of cat and mouse, the detective and the writer battle over the truth of the past and how events that led to the murder really unfolded. Which one of the two writers was ultimately guilty of malice?
Malice by Japanese author Keigo Higashino represents not only the first book that I’ve read by the author but also just happens to be one of my favourite books of the year. It’s an evocative read that puts the reader at ease from the opening pages until its dénouement where everything is tied up in a neat, unexpected and satisfying package.
Wonderfully translated from Japanese by Alexander O Smith and Elye Alexander the book is an effortless read. It’s as if the author sat down to write and in an hour had finished one of the most captivating reads I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year. It’s such a comfortable read that I found it hard to imagine that this wasn’t originally written in English!
As you delve into the story you begin to take things at face value and then, slowly but surely, Keigo Higashino moves the goalposts and takes you, the reader, on a different path and you begin to question everything you thought was true in the beginning. The pace is spot on and as comfort begins to set in, the author starts to unravel the mysteries surrounding the crimes both in present and in the past.
The story is narrated by Osamu Nonoguchi, friend of the deceased and fellow author and a detective and former teacher Kyochiro Kyaga, two very different approaches but both allowing the story to unfold and develop in their own unique way. I enjoyed both viewpoints but found Kaga’s reasoning and deductive skills superior to that of Nonoguchi’s storytelling. There was just something about Kaga that I found compelling but the way he discovered the hidden secrets and his dogged determination in solving the mystery was nothing short of superb.
If you are looking for crime fiction that is slightly unusual with wonderful storytelling, engaging characters and a simple crime that is anything but, then Malice is without question a must read. A game of cat and mouse from beginning to end, the book satisfies on multiple levels.
- Format:Kindle Edition
- File Size:645 KB
- Print Length:288 pages
- Publisher:Little, Brown Book Group (9 Oct 2014)