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Friday 13 May 2016

'A Midsummer's Equation' by Keigo Higashino

Published by Little Brown,
23 February 2016.   
ISBN 978-1-4087-0849-4
Translated by Alexander O. Smith

This is a detective story set in a Japanese resort town called Hari Cove.  The town has fallen on hard times with few visitors and ageing hotels. It has a little known feature of sparkling crystals to be seen under the water.  A company is suggesting an underwater mining operation which would mine some rare minerals and townspeople are divided between those who welcome the possibility of developing the town again and those who fear the environmental impact on the area.  A conference is held to enable the company to tell people about its plans and physicist Manabu Yukawa has been recruited to explain some scientific matters.

At the hotel where Yukawa is staying there is another guest who is found dead at the base of some cliffs.  It is seen as an accident until two things are discovered - he is a retired policeman and he has died from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Keigo Higashino does a good job of establishing the characters and the Japanese background of different habits and food contrasts well with the familiarity of a decaying seaside resort.  Yukawa teaches a young boy at his hotel about science, trying to enable him to investigate simple science for himself.  Yukawa also has some acquaintance with police in Tokyo who are investigating the retired policeman's reasons for being in at the conference in Hari Cove.

There is a lot of plodding police work to be done - literal pavement walking.  Gradually disparate pieces of information are found and slowly a story emerges from past events.  This is a clever detective story with a Japanese twist.

For the European and American readers the names are difficult at first but you get used to them!
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Keigo Higashino has written several other mysteries.

Keigo Higashino  was born 4 February 1958 in Osaka. He started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co. He won the Edogawa Rampo prize for writing at 27, and subsequently quit his job to start a career as a writer in Tokyo. He served as the 13th President of Mystery Writers of Japan from 2009 to 2013.
Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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