Sunday, January 24, 2021

Under the Midnight Sun: Keigo Higashino

This book starts out as a police procedural, then turns into something else. Detective Sasagaki is investigating the death of a man in an empty building. He starts with the victim's family, a wife and a son about 10 years old, and his place of business, a pawnshop. The investigation reveals that he visited a woman, Fumiyo Nishimoto, immediately before his death. She lived in another neighborhood with her preteen daugher, but had used the victim's pawn shop several times. The police suspect that Fumiyo was the killer, but she has a very good alibi. The case is dropped for lack of evidence although Sasagaki continues to look for more information related to the crime. 

After the investigation stalls, the story continues on following the main suspect's daughter, Yukiho, as she grows up, goes to university, and gets married. Also Ryo, the son of the murdered man. Each chapter depicts some event in their lives and/or the other people who work or go to school with them. I found out after I started the book that it was originally published as a serial in Japan from 1997 to 1999 and I can see how that would work well with this episodic structure. At times this was frustrating because I wasn't sure of the connections or what was going on. I think that was intentional. 

As the story gets closer to the end, Detective Sasagaki comes back into the story and we follow the events along with his investigation to see who was the killer and how that affected the people involved.


I enjoyed the book. Overall the story is very impressive. I had a hard time keeping up with all the characters though. Many reviewers noted that. My only real complaint was the length. I think some parts of the story could have been condensed.

As far as reading about life in another country, this novel conveyed very well life in Japan in the 1970s to the 1990s, with changing fads, various stages of education, office life, and characters at various economic levels.

The UK title is Journey Under the Midnight Sun. This is a standalone novel. I have read two other books by Keigo Higashino, The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of a Saint, both in the Detective Galileo series.

I read this book for the Japanese Literature Challenge



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Publisher:   Minotaur Books, 2016 (orig. pub. 1999)
Translator:  Alexander O. Smith with Joseph Reeder
Length:       554 pages
Format:       Hardcover
Setting:       Japan
Genre:        Mystery
Source:       Borrowed from my husband.

14 comments:

Marina Sofia said...

Yes, I thought it could have done with a bit of an edit, felt overly long. Still, intriguing.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I find a lot of Asian and Scandinavian mysteries more complicated in terms of number of characters and plot lines. Or else I am getting less able to take it in.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

It sounds like a good read. I like the idea of a setting in Japan during that time frame.

TracyK said...

Marina Sofia, I have liked all the books by Higashino that I have read, and I appreciated that each was different. My next read for the Japanese Lit Challenge will be another book by him, Malice, which is about half the length of this book.

TracyK said...

Maybe that is why I am less tolerant of complicated plot lines now, also, Patti. On the other hand, I tend to read too fast and not savor the story. Sometimes I can handle longer complicated stories if I can remember to slow down. Old habits die hard.

TracyK said...

The time frame was very interesting, Deb. When the story begins (1973) there is a shortage of toilet paper in the stores in Japan, relating to an oil shortage. Which of course I can remember, vaguely.

Margot Kinberg said...

That's an interesting way to go about telling a story, Tracy, and the look at Japan of the times is appealing, too. I do like Higashino's work, and I give him credit for taking this approach, even if the book could have used some editing. I'm glad you found things to like about it.

TracyK said...

I did like the book a lot, Margot. I would recommend it, but I am sure a lot of readers would find parts of it frustrating. For me, I was glad I read it.

carol said...

I've enjoyed everything I've read by Higashino. I still need to pick this one up though.

TracyK said...

Carol, I have only read three of his books, and I know of three more that I want to read. Two from the Detective Kaga series and A Midsummer's Equation, another Detective Galileo.

Clothes in Books said...

I have read only a few books set in Japan, and always wish I could read more. This sounds very interesting.

col2910 said...

Sounds good, but I'm not convinced it's one for me. I think I'll stick with the Japanese books I already have.

TracyK said...

Sorry I missed your comment, Moira. This is why I like the Japanese Challenge... every year I read 1-3 Japanese mysteries in the first quarter of the year. Luckily Glen usually has a good supply of them.

TracyK said...

Definitely, Col, read one of the Japanese novels you already have.