Sunday, February 1, 2015

Malice: A Mystery

Malice: A Mystery tags: cultural-Japan, mystery-crime, 

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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. 
Malice was written in 1996 but only got translated into English in December 2014. It is a very short but clever murder mystery. Once again, as in Higashino's previous books, The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of a Saint, the killer is revealed very early on. The question is why, and the answers are slowly revealed as the investigation goes.

The novel uses the "unreliable narrator" device, manipulating the reader to form a [probably false] opinion about a character in the book. Higashino, however, gives tiny bits of clues to keep the reader in doubt as to who the real bad guy is. The book reminds me of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl (read more than 2 years ago and also liked). Psychological whydunnit is becoming a favorite mystery sub-genre. When cleverly written, the novels make me think a lot while reading.

Highly recommended.

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