The creator of Detective Galileo (Salvation of a Saint, 2012, etc.) returns with another fiendishly clever Chinese—make that Japanese—box of a whydunit.
Kunihiko Hidaka and Osamu Nonoguchi were childhood friends. Hidaka became a best-selling novelist, Nonoguchi a middle-school teacher who retired to write children’s books. Returning to Hidaka’s home a few hours after he last saw him, Nonoguchi, accompanied by Rie, Hidaka’s much younger second wife, finds his body, felled by a paperweight and strangled. Despite the alibi Nonoguchi offers Kyoichiro Kaga and the detailed written account of his movements during the fatal evening, the police detective, who once taught at Nonoguchi’s school, can’t help suspecting his former colleague of “creat[ing] a fictional account of the events in order to divert suspicion from himself.” That’s an ingenious idea, but Higashino is only getting started. As Nonoguchi and Kaga continue to spar with each other, the detective digs deeper into the past, uncovering startling revelations about the death of Hidaka’s first wife, the two men’s school days, and their literary careers, before coming up with a solution, and then another, and still another.
Each time you’re convinced Higashino’s wrung every possible twist out of his golden-age setup, he comes up with a new one. If you still miss the days of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, you can’t do better than this fleet, inventive retro puzzler.