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Under the Midnight Sun: A Novel Hardcover – November 8, 2016
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About the Author
KEIGO HIGASHINO is the bestselling, best-known novelist in Japan and around Asia, with numerous television and film adaptations of his work appearing in several languages. He’s the author of The Devotion of Suspect X, the English translation of which was the finalist for the Edgar Award for best novel, and Salvation of a Saint. He lives in Tokyo, Japan.
Top customer reviews
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If you are just sitting down to begin this book, let me recommend that you make a cast of characters. Just a few words about each will suffice, and you will be glad you did when the narrative jumps several years and new characters enter the scene. Unless you are very familiar with Japanese names (I am not), you will have to flip back pages all the time to figure out if you've met these new ones before. (It's a safe bet that any character mentioned by name in the book is going to be important enough to write down.) Once I made my list (200 pages into the novel), everything was much easier!
The narrative begins in the 70s and ends 20 years later, with glimpses of the changes of the world in every stop along the way. We see the rise of computers and computer games; the economic boom and the bursting of the bubble; Rubik's Cubes and Super Mario Brothers; and much more. Reading about these was my favorite part of the novel, and I think it's the heart of it, somehow: you don't really get deeply into any one character's head, so you find yourself drawing a portrait of a group of people, seen from outside, moving through time. Perhaps because I am of an age with Keigo Higashino, I remember all these periods very well, and these glimpses called back memories. It was fascinating to see the same trends played out in Japan that I remembered from life in the States.
Higashino is very lucky in his translator. There must be countless times when Alexander O. Smith has to decide how much, if any, explanatory description to give, not to mention when he has to produce realistic slang-laden dialogue from, say, the 1980s. He does a wonderful job: the writing is seamless and the characters have reasonably distinct voices (although, again, individual character portraits are not the strong suit of this novel). An American reader can shoot through this 560-page novel without having to google every 10 pages, and without puzzling over the characters' motivations and attitudes. I think this is largely the result of a superb translation, and I'm glad to see that Smith has translated other Higashino novels too; I will be reading MALICE next, and I can't wait!
Regardless of how I felt about Under the Midnight Sun, I won't hesitate to grab the next translation of a Higashino work. For anyone else, Under the Midnight Sun would be a career peak. For Higashino, though, he might have had an off-day.
This novel has a large cast of characters, each with a small or large part to play in the web of crime that began with the pawnbroker's murder. Suspicious deaths, rapes, ominous disappearances, and even cyber crimes keep cropping up in the narrative. All of it seems to orbit around a beautiful young woman named Yukiho. People in her circle tend to have misfortunes.
I made a list of the characters as I read, because there were so many of them, with not especially memorable Japanese names. The sheer number of characters might present a difficulty for some readers. But every character is vividly portrayed, and the main characters are quite memorable once you get to know them -- especially detective Sasagaki, who has a way of popping up with new questions for random people every few years. The tempo and ambiance of life in Tokyo and Osaka comes through strongly, too. I felt I was in Japan as I read. I could almost taste the natto tempura.
Sasagagaki’s startling findings become more and more fascinating as the story unfolds. The denouement is dramatic and bizarre.
Keigo Higashino is an intensely literary writer of mysteries, and not because he uses self-consciously literary language. I don't know how he does it, but he draws you in to a disturbingly visceral experience of the dark side of human nature.
Most recent customer reviews
Like most Higasino novels I've read, this is a twist on mystery.Read more