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Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo…

Journey Under the Midnight Sun

by Keigo Higashino

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This is an excellent Japanese crime novel. I have previously read and enjoyed his most well-known crime novel, The Devotion of Suspect X, as well as Naoko, a unique (fictional) psychological study of gender roles.

This novel takes place over many years. It begins in 1973 when some children playing in an abandoned building discover the body of a pawnbroker who has been murdered. Suspicion initially falls upon a woman who had been one of the pawnbroker's clients and her boyfriend. However, after they die in separate incidents, the case becomes a cold case.

Over the course of the novel, we follow the lives of Ryo, the pawnbroker's son, and Yukiho, the daughter of the woman initially suspected of the murder, over the next 20 years as they grow up and approach middle-age. Yukiho, a beautiful and intelligent woman, becomes a wealthy and successful entrepreneur. Ryo, in his own mysterious way, is also successful. The two never seem to meet, but there are connections and coincidences involving them that seem to hint at something more under the surface.

This novel confirms my admiration for Higashino's skill as a writer of intricate and nuanced psychological crime novels. I will continue to seek out his books.

3 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jul 14, 2017 |
A gruesome murder of a pawnbroker, a dogged detective kick off this sprawling mystery that spans nearly twenty years and the lives of a whole cast of characters. This turns out to be more than a police procedural. Through various complicated subplots and unexpected twists, the author has given us a fascinating work. Various other murders occur throughout the work. It was interesting to see how the author drew everything together. I kept reading to see motivation. I was completely confused for about the first 40% of the novel at the Japanese names, but then things started to fall into place. It might be valuable for readers to keep some kind of name chart, along with who each character is. I enjoyed reading about snippets of Japanese customs and food. Dialogue was somewhat mechanical and clipped but the story moved along at a smart pace. ( )
  janerawoof | Apr 28, 2017 |
A strange and extended mystery with the murder solved almost 20 years after its commission and with a previously unsuspected murderer and unpredictable motive. Definitely not fair play by the author by the standards of golden age puzzle mysteries. However an interesting view of various levels of Japanese society from the 70s through to the 90s. You may want to take notes to keep track of the characters as the Japanese names provide few associations for an English reader. ( )
  ritaer | Feb 8, 2017 |
This is a non-traditional mystery by one of my favourite mystery writers. It focuses on the fallout of an unsolved murder over nearly two decades.

In 1973, Yosuke Kirihara, a pawnbroker, is found murdered in an abandoned building. Detective Sasagaki investigates. Suspicion falls on Fumiyo Nishimoto, a frequent customer, and her lover, but there is no evidence of guilt and so the case remains unsolved. After this inciting incident, the book follows the lives of Ryo, the ten-year-old son of the victim, and Yukiho, the daughter of the customer. Through their adolescence and their young adulthood, misfortune befalls many of Ryo and Yukiho’s acquaintances, friends, and family.

Point of view is used in an interesting way. Ryo and Yukiho remain very much in the background because chapters are narrated from the point of view of various minor characters. Obviously, this is an effective technique to create suspense. Since Ryo and Yukiho’s thoughts and feelings are never directly revealed, the reader can only guess at what motivates them or at their degree of involvement in events.

The plot can best be described as labyrinthine with numerous twists and turns, but in the end, all the details of the various subplots come together. How these subplots will be connected is one of the things that keeps the reader’s interest. The ending is not really a surprise; in fact, I would argue that the book could not have ended differently.

The cast of characters is massive. A character may show up in one section and then disappear, only to reappear years later. Non-Japanese readers might have some difficulty with the names. The first chapter introduces Yosuke, Yaeko and Ryo Kirihara; Isamu Matsuura; Fumiyo and Yukiho Nishimoto; and Tadao Terasaki. Other significant characters are Eriko Kawashima, Yuichi Akiyoshi, Miyako Fujimura, Fumihiko Kikuchi, Tomohiko Sonomura, Namie Nishiguchi, Kazunari and Yasuharu Shinozuka, Makoto Takamiya, Chizuru Misawa – and the list could go on and on. I would advise readers to perhaps begin a chart to remember characters.

The book is certainly dark with some very dark characters. However, even the villains are in the end shown to be human. When the reader learns about the backstories, motivations become clear and some sympathy is even felt for the bad guys.

The duration of the novel is almost twenty years, and the passage of time is shown through references to events in Japan; it is the allusions to advances in computer technology between 1973 and 1992 that are most distinctive.

This is a clever book which I found to be a compelling read. I was disappointed when I reached the end of this novel; as lengthy as it is, I would have liked it to continue.

Please check out my reader's blog (http://schatjesshelves.blogspot.ca/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Jan 30, 2017 |
Very creative without being bizarre! ( )
  njcur | Oct 18, 2016 |
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Due for publication in English in 2014 as 'Journey Under the Midnight Sun'
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When a man is found murdered in an abandoned building in Osaka in 1973, unflappable detective Sasagaki is assigned to the case. He begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are inextricably linked to the crime; the dark, taciturn son of the victim and the unexpectedly captivating daughter of the main suspect. Over the next twenty years we follow their lives as Sasagaki pursues the case - which remains unsolved - to the point of obsession. 

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