1. Deep rooted

Deep rooted

Japanese writer Higashino’s Malice is a psychological thriller as captivating as an action-packed adventure

By: | Published: December 28, 2014 1:16 AM

Malice: A Mystery
Keigo Higashino
Hachette
R350
Pp 281

Reading Keigo Higashino’s book, Malice, one invariably draws similarities with The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, one of the best mysteries in recent times. Just when one thinks everything is tied up, and rather neatly at that, the author grips the reader with more twists and turns.

Keigo Higashino is a Japanese author, but Malice could have been set anywhere in the world, the only Japanese references being the names and cherry trees. Bestselling author Kunihiko Hidaka is murdered in his house on the eve of his migration to Canada with his second wife. His friend Osamu Nonoguchi confesses to the murder, pleading momentary anger after a fight. But police detective Kyochiro Kaga, incidentally Nonoguchi’s former colleague during their days as schoolteachers, is not fooled. As he unwraps layer after layer of the mystery, it emerges Nonoguchi had an affair with Hidaka’s first wife, Hatsumi. But Hidaka found out and blackmailed Nonoguchi, who is also a struggling author, to be Hidaka’s ghostwriter.

Frustrated over Hidaka’s success and awards as a writer, which should have been rightfully his, Nonoguchi realises Hidaka’s blackmail is an everlasting grip even after Hatsumi’s death, and vents his anger by killing Hidaka.

But is that the truth? Who is the real victim and who is the perpetrator’s malice directed against?

Higashino delves deep into childhood traumas and the pains of growing up, especially boys who are subjected to intensive bullying in school, to use human psychology to further his plot. The book hinges on several clues that a keen understanding of psychology will unravel. The book delves deep into the human mind and how a person reacts to certain situations and random triggers, which become a catalyst for his future actions,

Malice is a thriller devoid of breakneck action, guns, fast-paced chases or bodies falling every page. But Higashino shows that cutting though the web of a person’s psyche can be as enthralling and as gripping as an action-packed adventure. Look forward to his next.

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