Malice by Keigo Higashino Malice by Keigo Higashino
Narrator: Jeff Woodman
Series: Kyoichiro Kaga Series #4
Published by Macmillan Audio on October 7, 2014 (first published September 1996)
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 7 hrs 31 mins
Format: Audiobook
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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.

Keigo Higashino is a Japanese author, apparently a very popular one. I’ve read two of his books before from the  and loved them. This one is from a difference series, #4, but the only Kaga mystery translated into English at this time. Happily is stands well on its own.

As the blurb states, the story is more of a cat and mouse game than a traditional mystery. We learn early who the killer is, even hear their confession, but as Kaga, our detective, digs deeper he questions what he’s been told.

I have to say I’ve never read a mystery quite like this one, and I’ve read a lot of mysteries. The killer’s thought process and actions are pretty fascinating really and the motive was not what I was expecting. In the beginning, we see things from two points of view, Kaga’s and Nonoguchi’s, but as time goes by we hear more Kaga’s thoughts and his interviews with people who knew the suspect. Locked room mysteries are rather standard, but the twists and turns this one takes are really amazing: believable, but in the “how could anyone do that/think of that” kind of way. Based on character and writing this is a solid 3, enjoyable but not outstanding. The way everything unfolds is what knocked my rating up.

Most series mysteries I read have a main character that drives the story, but Detective Kaga is fairly bland, I thought. He’s dogged and intelligent, but we don’t really learn much about him as a person, aside from one event from his past.

I listened to the audio and thought the narrator did a good job. He might be a bit too American for a distinctly Japanese work, but it’s probably for the best, at least for me. I’m pretty sure a really good Japanese accent would throw me out of the story. As it was, the narrator just blended in, kept the personalities distinct, but didn’t draw attention to himself as the reader.

I’m hoping they translate more of Higanshino’s books. Each has surprised me in some way, which is nice. Often, mysteries blend together into types and his stand out in the crowd.

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.