My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
About the Author:
Keigo Higashino (born February 4, 1958 ) is the single bestselling, best-known novelist in Japan and around Asia, with numerous television and film adaptations of his work appearing in several languages. He’s the author of ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’, which was the finalist for the Edgar Award for best novel, and ‘Malice’, among many others.
He was working as an engineer before he began writing. He won the Edogawa Rampo Prize for writing at age 27 and subsequently quit his job to start a career as a writer in Tokyo. Keigo was the President of ‘The Mystery Writers of Japan’ from 2009 to 2013. He is renowned for his mystery novels which have garnered many awards and recognition from all over.
Publication Year: 2011
‘A Midsummer’s Equation’ begins with Manabu Yukawa, a physics professor traveling to Hari Cove, a beautiful town in the countryside with a rich seabed. He frequently assists police in their investigation and is well known among the Tokyo police as ‘Detective Galileo’.
A mining company wants to exploit the ocean in order to find rare metals, but there’s a protest from the locals and environmentalists, arguing that this would harm the oceanic life. Yukawa is called there to present a lecture on the company’s behalf, to inform the locals about the mining process in hopes of gaining their confidence.
Later, a man’s body is discovered by the ocean. The incident is dismissed as a suicide but on further investigation, it turns out to be carbon monoxide poisoning and the victim is found to be a former policeman working in Tokyo department. Now, the case is taken up by the local police and Tokyo police for investigation.
This is a traditional whodunit murder mystery. The story revolves around a teenager Kyohei who meets Yukawa on the same train that is going to Hari Cove, his cousin Narumi who’s passionate about preserving the ocean, her parents who run a rundown resort in the town and the police that are performing investigation from both departments.
The story is set in this gorgeous town of Hari Cove that used to be a famous tourist spot back in the days but it has been neglected and since then, there hasn’t been much economic development. I loved reading about the descriptions of the town and its life which was different than the usual urban setting of his previous books. The change of location was a breath of fresh air.
I really enjoyed the story and it kept me hooked till the end, although it doesn’t quite have the feel that his other books had. The role of Manabu Yukawa is kind of pushed in the background while the investigation is carried out by local policemen and police from Tokyo, as the local police show a little incompetency during the investigation.
“It didn’t bother me. It excited my curiosity. And I believe there is no greater sin than to leave one’s curiosity unsatisfied.”
On the other hand, we get to know a little more about the professor’s eccentric personality, his ideas, and opinions as he’s right there from the start. It was interesting and enjoyable to read about. I loved his interactions with Kyohei. It shows a different side of his personality than we’re used to seeing in his previous novels.
That doesn’t mean we don’t get to see him gather the clues and investigate but a considerable amount of his time is spent in teaching the kid some cool science stuff and helping him with his homework! While its’ fun to follow him along, it does not contribute much to the plot. I felt like there were some side characters that were redundant and dropping them would have absolutely no impact on the story.
“But there’s no guarantee that the solution will be found immediately. The same holds true in our lives. We encounter several problems to which the solutions are not immediately apparent in life. There is value to be had in worrying about those problems when you get to them. But never feel rushed. Often, in order to find the answer, you need time to grow first. That’s why we apply ourselves, and learn as we go.”
There were too many people working on the investigation which is never a good thing as you know- ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’. They dig further to find the truth which leads the policemen to chase different clues to find the killer. Yukawa is later asked by the police to investigate the case in secret and he manages to solve this case.
The ending wasn’t what I’d call mind-blowing as it was predictable but overall, I enjoyed the book immensely. If you want an unputdownable mystery, then go for it!