‘Journey Under the Midnight Sun’ is a complex mystery by Japanese author Keigo Higashino.
In 1973 in a partly constructed building in Osaka, a child finds a dead man who has been stabbed. The man is a pawnbroker named Kirihara. The lead detective on the case is Sasagaki. Even though Kirihara’s wife, assistant and son provided alibies for each other, Sasagaki thinks that the son Ryo, a young teenager, is hiding something.
Another suspect in the case is Fumiyo Nishimoto, but she also has an alibi. A year later she is also dead, by accident or suicide. Once again Sasagaki is uncomfortable about her teenage daughter Yukiho.
The police eventually give up the cases but Sasagaki continues to investigate in his own time and follows the lives of Ryo and Yukiho for the next 19 years.
As the novel traces the mixed up lives of Ryo and Yukiho, in both cases we feel an evil lurking just below the surface of their lives. We follow Ryo as he lives his life on the wrong side of the law through various moneymaking schemes from setting up young boys to have sex with older women to pirating computer software to hacking and much worse. Meanwhile Yukiho uses her looks to trap the sort of men who will give her what she wants and things just happen to those who threaten to get in her way.
It isn’t till the end of the novel, with Sasagaki now retired that we find out the reasons for the way that Ryo and Yukiho have lived their lives.
There was a huge amount of detail in this novel and most of it added to the story. There were also a large number of characters and unfortunately with the unfamiliar Japanese names I had trouble keeping track of them all and remembering who was who.
Despite the difficulties, this was an excellent mystery, best read slowly and carefully. A list of characters would have been a useful appendix.
I always enjoy Higashino’s novels and it is easy to see why he is so popular in Japan.
Book Published 2002
Book Published in English 2015