Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino
Japanese mystery is a genre that’s been on my list for a while. The tricky part is finding English translations. I had originally wanted to read Miracles of the Namiya Convenience Store since I randomly saw a thumbnail for that movie on a Delta flight. But I couldn’t find an English version, so I researched other books by Keigo Higashino and picked this one. I really enjoyed it despite (or maybe because of) a very convoluted plot. I liked that it’s completely different from the Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie-style mysteries. It’s more about the thoughts and motivations of the characters. I didn’t even really read it with the mindset of trying to figure out who killed whom.
1) “There was a patchwork bag on the desk next to his book, embroidered with the initials ‘RK.'”
With this detail early on, it was pretty obvious how things were ultimately going to end, but the 20-year journey to get there was worth it.
2) “The contraption was a personal computer. If you were to buy it outright in a store it would have cost nearly a million yen.”
I looked it up, and USD to JPY was in the 200s during the 1980s. That’s still a lot of money.
3) “‘What blood type is Ryo?’ ‘AB'” – Tomohiko, Namie
Gave me the chills (spoilers)
4) “‘If I ran, it would just make the rain hit my face harder…. But wouldn’t it reduce the amount of time you were getting rained on?'” – Eriko, Kazunari
Isn’t this one of those age-old myths that I can never remember the real answer to?
5) “Then he dusted on to the magnetic strip of the card…. The filings had formed themselves into a striped pattern along the strip.”
This is such a cool hack. All technologies have loopholes.
6) “‘It’s only the rich families that produce that kind of class. The money comes first. Looks and style follow, every time.'” – Akemi
Money buys some things.
7) “He’d shown it once to Ryo and much to his surprise, Ryo asked to borrow it ‘to show to someone.'”
More chills (more spoilers). I love how the author reveals huge plot points through lowkey conversations.
8) “‘It’s just I have so much extra time sitting at home doing housework. And the market’s really good right now. It’s a lot better than just parking the money in a bank somewhere.'” – Yukiho
Stock trading is indeed one of the funnest activities. That’s why you usually have to pay for it.
9) “‘A cat rescued as a kitten grows up never knowing life without human protection. They’re trusting and easily spoiled. But a cat picked up when it’s already grown – even though they might seem friendly, they never stop being wary. They’ll live with you because you feed them, but they’ll never completely let their guard down.'” – Kazunari
I disagree with the premise that cats seem friendly.
10) “‘Ever heard about the goby and the shrimp?'”
No, but now I have.
This is one of those books that I never wanted to put down, partly because there were so many characters that I would have had no clue what’s happening had I paused for a week. I’m looking forward to reading his other books, or maybe finding another Japanese mystery writer.