A Midsummer’s Equation By Keigo Higashino

This is the third book in the Japanese “Detective Galileo” series and the plot is just as fast paced and diabolical as the first two, yet the story is not over complicated with unnecessary elements.

I received this as one of my Christmas presents and I polished this off on the same day so that probably tells you the reading intensity levels. There are multiple plot twists along the road to the conclusion but it doesn’t veer so violently that the ride to the destination jolts you; the story telling, despite its twists and turns, remains smooth and coherent. Nor are plot twists so frequent that you become numb to its impact as with every new reveal by Higashino, an additional layer of complexity is added to the crime, the motive, and the potential culprit. With each new clue and evidence being dissected, Higashino has a way of making you feel closer yet further to the solution, like only he can guide you to the finish line.

Unlike the previous two instalments, Manabu Yukawa plays a more active role in solving the crime. He doesn’t deviate from the tried and true prototypes of the ‘logical to the point of cold-blooded’ detective but he’s not in any way a homage to the Sherlock Holmes and the Poirots. The traits of being detail orientated and rational are necessary for any consulting detective to be of extra assistance to the police so it’s of no surprise it consistently appears in most detectives unencumbered by police bureaucracy. But Yukawa is able to take these characteristics and make it his own, instead of being dominated by them and becoming an empty vessel to carry the weight of the denouement. He incorporates these traits with his own personality, his scientific background, and his Japanese culture.

Higashino’s engineering background is much more pronounced in this novel as there are scientific discussions galore. As someone who dropped science in Year 10 (something I quite regret), it was definitely interesting to learn. Of course Higashino cleverly hides the answer to the crime within one of Yukawa’s many explanations but a seasoned crime reader could spot it fairly quickly as the lead up to the explanation felt a teensy forced. Nevertheless, the excitement of trekking along with Yukawa and discovering the culprit and the motive is still maintained.

Finally, besides being a whodunit, there’s the running theme of environmentalism however, Higashino presents a nice balanced opinion which, as someone with an engineering background, is to be expected. Here we can see Higashino present his viewpoints on the complicated relationship between the environment and science. The need to protect the environment should be respected but this can’t be achieved without scientific advancement and the only way to achieve this is by allowing scientists and researches access to protected areas, even at the (measured and thought out) risk of damaging them.

My friend who recommended the series to me described Higashino as the Japanese Stephen King and the helpful marker on the front cover of ‘A Midsummer’s Equation’ calls Higashino the Japanese Stieg Larsson. But I hope Higashino gets his own reputation instead of riding on the coattails of others.

 

On Another Note

If Hollywood does decide to bring this series to Western audiences, I will be so many levels of angry if they white-wash Yukawa.

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