1 August 2016

Review #498: Malice (Kyoichiro Kaga series, #4) by Keigo Higashino

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Because teachers, no matter how kind, no matter how friendly, are sadistic and evil to the core.”

----Heather Brewer

Keigo Higashino, the most popular and biggest selling Japanese fiction author, has penned an intriguing thriller, Malice that is the fourth book in the detective Kyoichiro Kaga series. This book revolves around the murder of a bestselling author right before he was going to leave Japan with his new wife to Canada and also right before the publication of his another book. The infamous detective soon arrives in the crime scene, and within few days he suspects the best friend of the author to be the killer behind the author's death.


Acclaimed bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found brutally murdered in his home on the night before he's planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver. His body is found in his office, a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. Or so it seems.

At the crime scene, Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga recognizes Hidaka's best friend, Osamu Nonoguchi. Years ago when they were both teachers, they were colleagues at the same public school. Kaga went on to join the police force while Nonoguchi eventually left to become a full-time writer, though with not nearly the success of his friend Hidaka.

As Kaga investigates, he eventually uncovers evidence that indicates that the two writers' relationship was very different that they claimed, that they were anything but best friends. But the question before Kaga isn't necessarily who, or how, but why. In a brilliantly realized tale of cat and mouse, the detective and the killer battle over the truth of the past and how events that led to the murder really unfolded. And if Kaga isn't able to uncover and prove why the murder was committed, then the truth may never come out.

Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga is assigned on the murder case of the popular Japanese fiction author, Kunihiko Hidaka. On the crime scene, he is surprised to find his old college-cum-teaching-mate, Osamu Nonoguchi, who claims that he is the best friend of the deceased author and have found himself in the crime scene along with the author's new wife. Kaga's quest and later investigation soon places Nonoguchi as the prime suspect, but going back into the past of the two friends reveals a different relationship between the two authors than Nonoguchi claims to be. But why did the prime suspect kill an innocent author? Can Kaga reveal the truth?

Well this is the first time that I ever read any book by Higashino, and I've only heard good things about him and his books. But very unfortunate to say that I found his book very dull, monotonous and predictable. Crime fiction being my favorite genre, I take the books of this genre pretty seriously, and I was very much surprised after the end of the book that this one turned out to be so much disappointing, where a regular reader like me could easily guess out the whodunit and the reason behind it, but the author has tried to twist the reason so much, that in the end I felt confused.

The author's writing is really emphatic, yet it has too much depth, maybe over depth that mars the overall charm and intrigue of the story. Being a thriller/crime fiction, tension should have been a key ingredient of this book, but there was neither any tension, nor any major twist that will leave the readers in awe. The narrative of the book not only reflects the local Japanese dialect with its proper translation into English, but the author has managed to make it quite arresting, yet if the plot lacks from any suspense, then even if the narrative is engaging, the readers won't manage to find any interest. The pacing is very, very slow, I do not know, how I finished reading despite of the constant torture.

The mystery lacked depth and closure, mid way through the book, I expected that the killer would be someone else, as the detective kept going back to the core of the two characters, and coming back with failed results. The mystery could have been much more well-developed with fast pace and more unexpected twists and turns.

The characters are honestly way too boring and lacked dimension or layers to view them as otherwise. Besides the main character, Kaga, the rest of the characters could not leave an impression in the minds of the readers. Kaga is an exceptional and smart-witted hero and he is the one factor that makes the story so compelling to read. His notes and his mindset works so intelligently yet his demeanor reflects of no such brilliance, he projects as someone simple yet clever.

In a nutshell, this is the last time that I bought any book by this author and I would suggest the hardcore crime fiction fans to skip this book, otherwise, if you're looking for a light thriller, then go for this one.

Verdict: A boring and a predictable thriller!

Author Info:
Keigo Higashino(東野 圭吾) is one of the most popular and biggest selling fiction authors in Japan—as well known as James Patterson, Dean Koontz or Tom Clancy are in the USA.
Born in Osaka, he started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co. (presently DENSO). He won the Edogawa Rampo Prize, which is awarded annually to the finest mystery work, in 1985 for the novel Hōkago (After School) at age 27. Subsequently, he quit his job and started a career as a writer in Tokyo.
In 1999, he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Inc award for the novel Himitsu (The Secret), which was translated into English by Kerim Yasar and published by Vertical under the title of Naoko in 2004. In 2006, he won the 134th Naoki Prize for Yōgisha X no Kenshin. His novels had been nominated five times before winning with this novel.
The Devotion of Suspect X was the second highest selling book in all of Japan— fiction or nonfiction—the year it was published, with over 800,000 copies sold. It won the prestigious Naoki Prize for Best Novel— the Japanese equivalent of the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize. Made into a motion picture in Japan, The Devotion of Suspect X spent 4 weeks at the top of the box office and was the third highest‐grossing film of the year.
Higashino’s novels have more movie and TV series adaptations than Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum, and as many as Michael Crichton.
Visit him here

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