A Midsummer’s Equation by Keigo Higashino A Midsummer's Equation by Keigo Higashino
Narrator: P. J. Ochlan
Series: Detective Galileo #6
Published by Macmillan Audio on February 23, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 11 hrs 38 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Manabu Yukawa, the physicist known as "Detective Galileo," has traveled to Hari Cove, a once-popular summer resort town that has fallen on hard times. He is there to speak at a conference on a planned underwater mining operation, which has sharply divided the town. One faction is against the proposed operation, concerned about the environmental impact on the area, known for its pristine waters. The other faction, seeing no future in the town as it is, believes its only hope lies in the development project.

The night after the tense panel discussion, one of the resort's guests is found dead on the seashore at the base of the local cliffs. The local police at first believe it was a simple accident-that he wandered over the edge while walking on unfamiliar territory in the middle of the night. But when they discover that the victim was a former policeman and that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning, they begin to suspect he was murdered, and his body tossed off the cliff to misdirect the police. As the police try to uncover where Tsukahara was killed and why, Yukawa finds himself enmeshed in yet another confounding case of murder.

Higashino might be one of my favorite authors. A Midsummer’s Equation is the fourth of his mysteries I’ve read I’ve read. It’s the third Detective Galileo translated into English but the 6th in the series. It doesn’t matter; the ones I’ve read definitely stand-alone.

As the blurb above says, Manabu Yukawa is at a run-down resort town to attend a conference when, surprise, surprise, someone gets murdered. Yukawa is a physicist – good at observing, logical, thoughtful, quiet. He’s that character that knows what’s going on but isn’t going to brag about it. We also get to see his more caring side here. He becomes friends with a boy who is also staying in town and they have some very good scenes together. His concern for the boy is what pulls him into the case, and his natural tendency to get involved in mysteries – he is the series’ star.

A lot of mystery blurbs talk about a surprise twist, but Higashino actually lives up to it. I will say that maybe the twist in this one wasn’t as surprising as in others, but it’s still a well-done plot. We have all the information. With two different groups of detectives working on the case, mostly independently, and Yukawa doing his own digging, it’s a rather complicated investigation. It’s not an action-y mystery though. There’s not much risk of danger,which could make it feel a little slow I guess, but I enjoyed the pace. It has a good balance between plot and character. The people are well-drawn, have their faults and the strengths, have their reasons for doing what they do.

I listened to the audio which worked well for me. Although I may not be able to spell many of the characters names, the narrator’s tones and attitudes for the different individuals helped me know who was who. I think he especially captured Kyohei, the fifth-grader well. He gets his smart aleck tendencies, his curiosity and his vulnerabilities.

Not my favorite of Higashino’s novels, but that may be because I expect a lot from him. This was good and a break from the style mystery I often read. In the end it’s not about justice, but about solving the puzzle and then deciding how proceed from there.

Added 8/4:

I was thinking about this again last night. Usually I don’t like children in books I read, but I didn’t have a problem with Kyohei. Maybe it’s because he wasn’t really treated like a child in the way a lot of books are. Yukawa spoke to him like he was intelligent and had reasonable questions. He was protected, yes, but still pretty much allowed his run of the hotel. Maybe it helped that his parents weren’t involved in the investigation or crime.

About Keigo Higashino

Born in Osaka, he started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co. (presently DENSO). He won the Edogawa Rampo Award, which is awarded annually to the unpublished 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 Award for the novel Naoko, which was translated into English by Kerim Yasar and published by Vertical Inc. in 2004. In 2006, he won the 134th Naoki Prize for The Devotion of Suspect X (Yōgisha X no Kenshin). The novel also won the 6th Honkaku Mystery Award and was ranked as the number-one novel by Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! 2006 and 2006 Honkaku Mystery Best 10, annual mystery fiction guide books published in Japan.

The English translation of The Devotion of Suspect X was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Barry Award for Best First Novel.

He writes not only mystery novels but also essays and story books for children.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: