Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Review: Malice: A Mystery by Keigo Higashino


Book: Malice: A Mystery

Author: Keigo Higashino

Pages: 288

I read it on: My Kindle

I read it in: 3 hours 

Plot Summary: 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, 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.

At the crime scene, Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga recognizes Hidaka’s best friend, Osamu Nonoguchi. Years ago when they were both teachers, they were colleagues at the same public school. Kaga went on to join the police force while Nonoguchi eventually left to become a full-time writer, though with not nearly the success of his friend Hidaka. 

As Kaga investigates, he eventually uncovers evidence that indicates that the two writers’ relationship was very different that they claimed, that they were anything but best friends.  But the question before Kaga isn't necessarily who, or how, but why. 

In a brilliantly realized tale of cat and mouse, the detective and the killer battle over the truth of the past and how events that led to the murder really unfolded. And if Kaga isn't able to uncover and prove why the murder was committed, then the truth may never come out.

General Thoughts: This is the second book by Mr. Hagashino that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed! I first read The Devotion of Suspect X, which was a smartly written mystery and had elements of a cat-and-mouse game between the murderer and the detective; it is an interesting read and I highly recommend it. Coming back to Malice, unlike other books in this genre, in Malice, we learn who the killer is very early in the story and the whole book is actually about establishing the real motive behind Hidaka's murder, which I thought was a very interesting take on a murder mystery. 

Hagashino uses the unreliable narrator ploy very well, which makes the book very interesting for the reader- you go around looking for consistencies and clues and develop your own theories. What I also liked was how the book helps you look at the character of both the men- Nonoguchi and Hidaka-and makes you examine them as individuals. A lot of murder mysteries don't really focus on character development and so, it was refreshing to see this almost analytical take on characters and the motivations driving their actions. 

The characters in Malice were nicely fleshed out. Kaga, the detective, seems very methodical and sharp- someone who relies on his instincts and keeps digging even after the murderer's confession. Nonoguchi comes across as pathetic, pitiful and cruel at various points in the book and Hidaka- the victim- seems more of less like a mystery right up until the last chapter of the book, which, I thought was also nicely done. 

This is a very well written (and I am guessing, well translated) book and if you are looking for an interesting murder mystery, then this is a good one to pick up! 

Rating: 5/5

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