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A Midsummer’s Equation by Keigo Higashino

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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
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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:

Audiobook Review: Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

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Salvation of a saint

Title: Salvation of a Saint (Detective Galileo #2)

Author:Keigo Higashino

Translator: Alexander O. Smith

Reader:  David Pittu

Category: Mystery

Audio published: October 2, 2012 by Macmillan Audio (First published 2008)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

Yoshitaka, who was about to leave his marriage and his wife, is poisoned by arsenic-laced coffee and dies.  His wife, Ayane, is the logical suspect—except that she was hundreds of miles away when he was murdered. The lead detective, Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi, is immediately smitten with her and refuses to believe that she could have had anything to do with the crime.  His assistant, Kaoru Utsumi, however, is convinced Ayane is guilty.  While Utsumi’s instincts tell her one thing, the facts of the case are another matter.  So she does what her boss has done for years when stymied—she calls upon Professor Manabu Yukawa.
But even the brilliant mind of Dr. Yukawa has trouble with this one, and he must somehow find a way to solve an impossible murder and capture a very real, very deadly murderer.

I read The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino back in 2011 and loved it. I remember just being stunned by the ending, so I had high expectations for Salvation of a Saint. It was a good mystery, but perhaps not quite as clever as the other. Although it’s the second in the series, it stands on its own perfectly well. We are given everything we need to know and each is pretty self-contained.

Salvation of a Saint is not so much a whodunit as a how did she do it. We know in the first chapter who the killer is, even though the police don’t. The question for us is how did she do it from hundreds of miles away. So, while we see the police going through the procedure of finding suspects, searching for clues, we’re pretty sure we know who the evidence will point to in the end.

I truly enjoyed this audiobook, once I got used to the names. At first, I have to admit, all the Japanese names are a little confusing. David Pittu does an excellent job reading, giving each character his/her own voice and inflections with just a touch of a foreign accent that adds to the flavor of the book.

The two detectives, Kusanagi and his assistant Kaoru Utsumi, have different views on the crime. Kusanagi has a bit of a crush on Ayane, the victim’s wife, and thinks she must be innocent, while Utsumi is sure she is guilty.  This makes for some tension between the two and also gives us some insight into their characters beyond just being “the police.”

When the solution as to how the poison got in the coffee isn’t clear, Utsumi calls in physics professor Manabu Yukawa who has helped on several cases in the past. He’s just a brilliant man, curious about the hows behind cases, not so much concerned about justice.

I can’t say this is a character-driven mystery; it definitely falls more into the puzzle category, although one character does drive the story- Ayane. I don’t want to tell you too much, but she manages to be both caring and cold-blooded, calculating and hopeful. And the solution, while perhaps not earth-shattering is still pretty surprising, in that someone could actually pull it of.

I’m really enjoying this series. I guess there’s a third that hasn’t been translated yet. I’m looking forward to it.

Detective Galileo Series

  1. The Devotion of Suspect X
  2. Salvation of a Saint
  3. Manatsu no hoteishiki  [Midsummer Equation]

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.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

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The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino,
translated by Alexander O. Smith

All I can say is read this one, but read it all the way through. It’s the end that makes it outstanding.

Set in Tokyo, the book starts out with a woman, Yasuko, killing her ex-husband to protect her daughter, so we know who the killer is, who was killed and why. Her neighbor, Ishigami, a brilliant mathematician, decides to help her cover up the murder, so we know who her accomplice is but not why he goes to such extremes to protect her.

I have to protect them, thought Ishigami. He would never be this close to so beautiful a woman ever again in his life. He was sure of that. He had to summon every last bit of his strength and knowlege to prevent any calamity from happening to her. (pg. 36, ARC)

Enter the detectives, a pair of good guys trying to figure out what happened. If it were just them working on the case, probably they wouldn’t get anywhere, but they are being aided to some degree by Yukawa, an associate professor of physics who happens to be an old college friend of the mathematician. It comes down to a struggle between the two of them, Yukawa and Ishigami, as to who can outwit the other. At the same time, though, they admire each other. They are both geniuses and don’t have many equals they can relate to. They’re both almost too brilliant to be believable, but I’m willing to overlook that.

If that were all there is to it, it’s a compelling story, an intelligent thriller, but the end, the last chapter or so, stunned me. It made me think back to the rest of the book, picking up on details I hadn’t seen the first time around. And the last page’s raw emotion is astounding. I don’t want to tell you too much, because I don’t want to spoil the ending. Trust me, it’s worth your time.

298 pages (ARC)
To be released February 1, 2011 by Minotaur Book

5 out of 5 stars

Pre-order at Amazon, an Indie bookstore, or The Book Depository.

Challenge: Mystery & Suspense

I received my ARC from the publisher and the above is my honest opinion.

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.

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