Monday, September 11, 2017

'Malice' from Childhood

Decades ago, I read this series of novels by Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾) about the fantastic skills of Detective Kyochiro Kaga. It's similar to the many detective stories floating out there right now, except that Keigo Higashino is a very good writer in terms of plot lines and letting readers unravel the mysteries.

There's also the Detective Galileo series, known for the third title 'The Devotion of Suspect X' (2005) with its eccentric and brilliant physicist Manabu Yukawa. I think there's a Taiwanese film adaptation of it, and there'll be another Chinese television series to be made soon. I uhhh have little interest in those and will stick to the books.

I read these novels in Japanese. Now that his books are finally getting translated into English, mainly by Alexander O. Smith. Bought a bunch of them at the Kinokuniya sale. These aren't books I'll keep, but I know where to pass them on. :)

I'll talk about 'Malice'「悪意」(1996) in this post. It was translated in 2014 by Alexander O. Smith. This is the fourth book in the series starring Detective Kyochiro Kaga. All about yet another a troubling murder, and Detective Kyochiro Kaga's wonderful sleuthing skills and insight. Don't read on from this point if you don't want any spoilers. (Reviews herehere, and here.)

On the night before leaving Japan to relocate to Vancouver, acclaimed author Kunihiko Hidaka was found murdered in his own home, in his locked office. He was first hit in the head with a paperweight, then strangled. His best friend Osamu Nonoguchi is the prime suspect. He's also a writer. He was previously a teacher, and now a not-as-successful writer. All evidence point to Nonoguchi as the murderer, with motives.

Accusations, hints and red herrings abound as to the real killer and his motives. Perhaps there was an old affair between Hidaka's wife and Nonoguchi. Perhaps it's a simple case of professional jealousy. Detective Kyochiro Kaga knows Nonoguchi from their days as teachers in a public school. Scouting around, he discoves that Nonoguchi doesn't seem as innocent as he has claimed. And murdered author Hidaka isn't as devious as spoken of, and certainly doesn't seem to have plagiarize the former's stories. Readers are given a story of low self-esteem and revenge, stemming from the bullying days of teenagers in middle school and an assault on an innocent girl. All these experiences and incidents seeded secrets, envy, dissent and malice that accompany adulthood.

When you realize your own death was imminent, you stopped holding back. You couldn't bear to leave this world with so much rage burning inside you. The fact that Hidaka knew about your past and he had proof that could expose those secrets, that wasn't the reason you acted. But it was enouh to push you over the edge, to push the darkness you held within you out into the light. You decided to spend your last days planning the perfect crime. You murdered a man and let yourself get caught in order to steal everything from your victim - to ruin his name and his honour and everything he loved, even stealing the credit for the books he wrote.


D said...

sounds like what I'd like! Will check out Malice. thanks!

imp said...

Maybe the whole series if you like the sound of the stories!