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: 1996
‘Malice’ revolves around the death of a famous author Kunihiko Hidaka who was going to move to Canada with his wife the next day. They were in the process of moving and he was working on his new novel in his locked house. His body is discovered by Osamu Nonoguchi, a best friend of Hidaka who is also an author of children’s books.
The investigation team involves Detective Kyoichiro Kaga who was a colleague of Osamu in the past. They were both working as teachers at the same school but eventually, they went their separate ways. Kaga suspects him and digs into the past of both the writers to find a reason for any malice between them.
“Everyone has secrets. And everyone has the right to keep them. Even if they’re dead.”
First off, the book is written brilliantly. I can’t say it was as good as his previous works but I appreciate the complexity, the attention-grabbing mystery, and the awesome twists. We learn the story in the first person with the help of shifting narratives between Osamu and Kaga taking us all the way into the past.
The book does not spend a lot of time developing the main characters like Kaga and Osamu. So, it felt a little dull in my opinion, at least in the beginning. Mostly, it might be because the narration is unreliable and the beginning is predictable and not suspenseful enough. In spite of that, the story was engaging.
The identity of the murderer is revealed at the start of the novel but what’s different about this story is that the heart of the mystery revolves around the motivation of the crime rather than how it was committed. This leads us to encounter a lot of red herrings on the way and I was absolutely amazed by that.
‘‘What was most frightening was not the violence itself, but the negative energy emitted by those other boys who hated him. He had never imagined that such malice existed in the world.’’
About more than halfway around the book, it felt like everything seems to have resolved and what the hell am I going come across next that would dazzle me? But, I was wrong! The story just takes an exciting turn and we learn a different side of the story. Though I did not like the ending much, it was a pretty enjoyable book.
It’s a mystery worth reading.