Matsuura swiveled his chair ninety degrees and opened the door of the cabinet next to his knee. Sasagaki saw several thick files standing on end. He was leaning forward to take a closer look when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the door to the stairs open. Sasagaki froze.
Title: Under the Midnight Sun
Author: Keigo Higashino (Translation: Alexander O. Smith)
Publisher: Minotaur Books, November 8, 2016
Format/Source: Paperback ARC received from Publisher
A pawnbroker is murdered in Osaka in 1973. Over the next twenty years, the story follows the lives of two teens—one the victim’s son, the other the main suspect’s daughter—and the efforts of the original investigating detective determined to close the unsolved case.
- The way it all comes together. So many of the characters’ stories seem to have nothing to do with the crime, yet each holds a clue to solving the puzzle. It’s great fun once the a-ha moments start and people and things and events that didn’t have anything to do with anything else suddenly click into place. The only downside is the time it takes to get to these moments. Everything connects solidly in the end, but patience is needed to get there.
Under the Midnight Sun isn’t a straightforward mystery, something important for readers to understand before they begin. There’s murder and a main detective, yes; but this is where the normal progression shifts. Higashino balances his mystery on the perspectives of several characters, and narrative viewpoints switch frequently from one character to the next. Only a couple of these characters are ever actively searching for clues to solve the original murder mystery. Most are merely recounting their experiences as pawns or players in a tragic game they didn’t know they were playing. In a sense, the reader is the true detective here, sussing out the facts from the numerous accounts provided in the twenty years between the crime and the resolution. This and some minor time jumps require a bit of adjustment to normal mystery reading expectations.
At 500+ pages, this is not a quick or light read. Managing the large cast of characters is mentally draining, and the ending feels a bit abrupt considering the amount of time invested by the reader. Regardless, Higashino’s writing is always mesmerizing, the plot twists are plentiful, and the suspense builds steadily. It might be easy to deduce the culprit way before the story’s conclusion; the killer’s motives, however, remain elusive until the end. Under the Midnight Sun is an intense novel, one which most likely won’t be read in just one sitting but is absolutely worth finishing.
Recommended for readers ready to hunker down with a hefty, slow-burning mystery.