Journey Under the Midnight Sun: tangled and ambitious

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…

You know those books which you pick up and then cannot put down again until they’ve told their tale and you’ve reached the end? This is not … not quite … like that. This is a book where it’s sensible to stop after an hour, maybe a half-hour, take a break to think about things, and then return. At least, that works for me. And this is not a complaint, simply an acceptance of the dull fact that my head fills up with the Japanese names of the Japanese characters and locations, so I tend to get lost in the language tangles at the expense of my ability to grasp the tangles of the plots.

But this is a clever story, cleverly told.

As is typical with this author, the reader knows – or can guess – who’s done what and to whom. The endlessly burning questions are How? and Why? As with a lot of Japanese ‘crime’ fiction, this often reads more like a social study than a traditional crime novel. To this Brit reader Japanese society is more alien, and often beautifully so, than the majority of fictional alien species in science fiction. There is blood and beauty there. Grace and danger.

The author sets the pace, and plays with pace, too. Tension mounts, you detect the approach of A Great Revelation at the end of a chapter… and the next chapter starts several years later without an answer to the preceding chapter. It’s very clever, very absorbing.

Great author. Great book. More please.
Reviewed by Frank Westworth
Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino is available at Amazon

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