Keigo Higashino Malice by Keigo Higashino (2015-02-05)


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  • The origin of evil

    Malice by Keigo Higashino (2015-02-05)


    11. February 2017 um 21:51

    Acclaimed best-selling 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. Two authors. Colleagues. Friends. Competitors. Enemies? What exactly was the relationship between Kunihiko Hidaka and Osamu Nonoguchi? This is the question at the heart of Malice an unusual crime novel from one of the most succesfull Japanese mystery writers of our time. Hidaka is the best-selling author of award-winning novels, Nonoguchi is a modestly successful writer of children’s books. They seem to be friends, or so the narrator Nonoguchi tells us. He calls on him the day before the other man is bound to leave for Vancouver and finds him dead in front of his computer. It is clear that Hidaka was murdered, but with nothing stolen a burglary can be ruled out and it becomes very likely that the culprit was someone who knew the victim personally. While Nonoguchi seems to have an alibi, detective Kaga soon manages to prove that this was actually entirely fabricated making him the main suspect in the case. Kaga uncovers a case of betrayal and blackmail forcing Nonoguchi to confess to the murder. With the killer under arrest the case could be over. Yet Kaga feels that the explanations and the motive given for the crime are not entirely satisfying and that there must be some other, deeper reason beneath. Hence he starts to dig into the two men’s past to uncover the truth. Told from alternating points of view of the investigating detective and the main suspect Malice pieces together the story of a violent crime the origins of which lie in the characters childhood past. It is not a whodunit, since we find out relatively early who did it. It is not a howdunit either, even though initially the case might look like a locked room mystery. What is it then? – you might ask. A whydunit. Posing the question why people commit murder in the first place. One review describes the book as mixture between Agatha Christie and Dostoevsky. And while this sounds rather tempting I do not think it is entirely accurate. Time Magazine called Higashino “the Japanese Stieg Larsson” - And this is true insofar as both share the same cold and dispassionate style, simple sentences tied together with little flair or charm. As for the numerous twists and turns promised on the cover, they are there, yes, but for some reason they did not sweep me off my feet the way they were most likely supposed to. You can sense where this is heading, especially if you have been a diligent reader of mystery novels in the past, because for all its structural daring I felt Higashino was covering well-tread ground here. Once the finale happened it was less emotionally devastating than it should have been, instead it felt curiously anticlimactic. For all its dramatic potential the tale seems awfully contrived, Kigashino is treating his characters like pieces on a chessboard, moving them around according to his own purposes. In theory they might be deep and complex human beings, in truth they are just ploys in a detective novel which struggles to overcome its own artificiality. Malice might be unique, but it is suffering from the same humourlessness and matter of fact tone that marred the previous novel I read by this author THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X.

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