John's Reviews > Malice

Malice by Keigo Higashino
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it was amazing

Back in October 2015 I read and enjoyed Higashino's The Devotion of Suspect X -- I see that I gave it five stars here on Goodreads, which is slightly embarrassing since, of the two novels, I actually prefer Malice.

Why? I think perhaps because it's simpler, with just two central characters (or five, if you include the victim, his deceased wife and his new wife), and with a single detective (rather than two) who's a damn' fine cop rather than a genius; and because within this tight focus Higashino spins what's really, in terms of deduction, a most complicated tale.

The bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is murdered in his study on the eve of departure to live in Canada; among the last people to see him, aside from his young wife Rie, was his best friend, another writer, Osamu Nonoguchi. Called in to investigate is the cop Kyochiro Kaga, who knows Nonoguchi of old: they taught at the same school together years ago before one left to become a cop and the other to become a writer of children's fiction. Hidaka and Nonoguchi were acquainted for far longer than that, having been students at school together.

Pretty soon Kaga becomes sure that Nonoguchi, despite his status as best friend, was the murderer of Hidaka. But what could possibly have been his motive? As more and more evidence piles up to indicate Nonoguchi's guilt, Kaga teases out a tale of adultery, blackmail and auctorial plagiarism on a grand scale . . .

Kaga in fact comes up with more than one plausible solution to the mystery of what really went on before hitting on the right one; in this context the novel reminded me very much of some of the works of authors like John Dickson Carr and Ellery Queen, where the detective has, so to speak, several shots at the target. The Carr comparison is clearly one that the publisher wants to encourage, stressing the phrase "locked room" in the blurb; this is not, however, in any sense a locked-room mystery.

One of the reasons that The Devotion of Suspect X appealed to me so much was that it was full of sciencey trimmings. One of the reasons Malice held me enthralled is that it's full of stuff about writerly vulnerabilities, preoccupations and passions. I'm sort of waiting for Higashino to write a detective novel with lots of stuff about cricket in it, thereby completing a sort of obsessional trifecta for me . . .
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 24, 2018 – Shelved
January 24, 2018 – Finished Reading

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