Mind-Blowing Mysteries from Japan: Keigo Higashino

~ post by Raul M. Chapa

The rarest and most precious of mysteries are, in my opinion, the ones that twist the facts, that make you scratch your head, then totally astound you when you finally puzzle out the truth.  Following the clues to find out who the killer is before the end has always been what appeals to me in these stories, but then there are always those immortal titles which keep you guessing to the end, and are completely unforgettable: Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, John Dickson Carr’s The Hollow Man and Ellery Queen’s The Greek Coffin Mystery to name a few. Into this league of masters, I’d like to add Keigo Higashino’s mysteries, and though only a few of these have been translated into English (which is a shame), Higashino enjoys wide fame in Japan and Asia in general.

In print and available now are two novels from his Detective Galileo series – The Devotion of Suspect X and The Salvation of a Saint.  Both of these books deal with a police detective named Kusanagi, and his unconventional, genius physics professor friend, Yukawa. The good doctor, Yukawa, is nicknamed “Dr. Galileo” for his unique and on-target solutions to mysteries that have left Kusanagi at wit’s end, though he usually arrives at his conclusions in eccentric ways.

The Devotion of Suspect X is a brilliant cat and mouse game between the primary suspect and Yukawa, who used to be friends. Since they each knows how the other thinks, the story plays out with several intellectual feints and twists, and when it all comes together, the solution will surprise you. The Salvation of a Saint includes Kusanagi’s colleague who is convinced a wife has poisoned her husband, though she was far away when it happened. Unable to find any evidence, Kaoru Utsumi turns to Dr. Galileo for help. This play on the classic whodunit has more to do with how it was done, and once again, the answer will throw you for a loop.

Coming out in October is a book called Malice, a separate mystery series with Detective Kyoichiro Kaga looking into the murder of a bestselling author. This story takes the form of written journals by the murderer as well as notes and interviews by the detective. It leaves us with various threads to try and unravel to find the motive for the crime, and in following them up, the reader comes to a new understanding of what malice really is.

I hope you pick up Higashino’s books, because they will twist your mind in deliciously intriguing ways – and if you are looking for something along the lines of some of the best in the genre, you are missing out if you don’t at least try him.

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