Book Review: Malice by Keigo Higashino (The Kyoichiro Kaga Saga, 1)

Malice is a locked-room mystery novel written by Keigo Higashino, a popular Japanese author known for his intricate plots and clever twists. The novel follows the story of a famous novelist named Kunihiko Hidaka, who is found dead in his locked study the night before he is set to leave Japan for Canada. The only person known to be in the study with him at the time of his death is his best friend and fellow writer, Osamu Nonoguchi, who claims he left the room after a brief conversation with Hidaka.

The novel is narrated from the perspectives of two main characters: Detective Kyoichiro Kaga, who is assigned to solve the case, and Nonoguchi, who provides a personal account of his relationship with Hidaka and the events leading up to the murder. As Kaga investigates the case, he begins to unravel a complex web of motives, secrets, and lies, eventually leading to a surprising and satisfying conclusion.

One of the strengths of the novel is its intricate and well-crafted plot. Higashino is a master at constructing complex mysteries with unexpected twists, and Malice is no exception. The locked-room aspect of the mystery is particularly intriguing, as the reader is presented with a seemingly impossible crime and must follow along with Kaga’s thought process as he slowly unravels the clues and contradictions.

The characters in the novel are also well-developed and interesting, particularly Nonoguchi, who provides a unique perspective on the events leading up to the murder. Through his narration, the reader is given insight into the world of Japanese literature and the relationships between writers, adding an extra layer of depth to the story.

Another strength of the novel is its exploration of the theme of truth and lies. Throughout the story, the characters are forced to confront the ways in which they have been dishonest with themselves and others, and the consequences of their actions. This theme adds a psychological depth to the novel, and makes the reader consider the motives and justifications behind the characters’ actions.

One of the potential weaknesses of the novel, however, is the pacing. The first half of the book is relatively slow-moving, as Kaga methodically interviews the suspects and uncovers clues. While this is necessary for the plot, some readers may find it slow or tedious. However, the second half of the book picks up pace considerably, as Kaga’s investigation reaches its climax and the truth behind the murder is revealed.

In conclusion, Malice is a well-crafted and satisfying locked-room mystery that will appeal to fans of the genre. Higashino’s intricate plotting and well-developed characters make for a compelling read, and the exploration of the theme of truth and lies adds a psychological depth to the story. While the pacing may be slow at times, the surprising twists and satisfying conclusion make it a worthwhile read.

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