Malice by Keigo Higashino
Set in modern Japan in an unspecified city, the plot tells you what it is from the very beginning, with chapters that have titles like “Murder,” “Suspicion,” and “Confession.” First the accused murderer, Nonoguchi, tells his story, and then the detective on the case, Kaga, tells his version of things.
Nonoguchi’s friend, successful novelist Kunihiko Hidaka, has been found slain in his office just days before he was set to move to Vancouver with his new wife. Nonoguchi is a prime suspect from the very beginning, as he was the next to last person to see Hidaka alive. He tells his side of the story, but Detective Kaga does not believe that anything adds up, which he repeats a few times in the course of the narrative. It’s not until the last third of the novel that Kaga’s misgivings will begin to make sense.
As so often happens in mysteries, the crime itself is ordinary, but the lead-up and the details of what makes the criminal who he is make all the difference. This book is more psychological, less thriller. The acts of violence have all happened in the past. But the calm and collected pace of the novel is more disturbing as we begin to see into Nonoguchi’s past and learn that nothing is what it seems. A gripping read and one that makes me wish translators would get more of this author into English!
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