Shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association International Dagger Award
Spectator Best Books of 2019
'An intriguing mashup of police procedural and golden age puzzle mystery' Guardian
International bestseller Keigo Higashino returns with his latest mindbender - Newcomer - as newly transferred Tokyo Police Detective Kyochiro Kaga is assigned to a baffling murder.
Detective Kyochiro Kaga of the Tokyo Police Department has just been transferred to a new precinct in the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo. Newly arrived, but with a great deal of experience, Kaga is promptly assigned to the team investigating the murder of a woman. But the more he investigates, the greater number of potential suspects emerges. It isn't long before it seems nearly all the people living and working in the business district of Nihonbashi have a motive for murder. To prevent the culprit from eluding justice, Kaga must unravel all the secrets surrounding a complicated life. Buried somewhere in the woman's past, in her family history, and the last few days of her life is the clue that will lead to the murderer.
This is the second appearance in English of Police detective Kyochiro Kaga, the protagonist of the critically acclaimed Malice.
'Detective Kaga pursues the case of a murdered woman from suspect to suspect, through a nostalgia-tinged Tokyo of family-run shops and Ginza bar girls. Clever and charming' Sunday Times
In Higashino's satisfying second novel featuring Kyoichiro Kaga to be published in English (after 2014's Malice), the Columbo-like Tokyo police detective pursues loose ends in the case of the strangulation murder of Mineko Mitsui, a divorcee estranged from her only child, whose friends insisted that "she was the last person on earth to have enemies." Kaga believes that his responsibilities as a homicide investigator extend to finding ways to comfort those traumatized by violent crime. He begins with a family that runs a store that sells rice crackers to ascertain whether an insurance salesman who claimed he was in Mineko's apartment shortly before her death on business had an alibi. Other threads include the identity of the person who bought an assortment of pastries found at the scene of the crime, and why the dead woman purchased an expensive pair of kitchen scissors. Although the solution is less elaborate than those in the author's Detective Galileo novels, the end result is a police procedural puzzle mystery that comes across as more realistic.
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Author: Former engineer for Nippon Denso Coy, until he decied to write novels. One of the most popular and biggest selling fiction authors in Japan, where he is as well known as James Patterson, Dean Koontz or Tom Clancy are elsewhere. Numerous TV and movie adaptations of his novels.
Premise: Police procedural. Second book in a series about Detective Kyoichiro Kaga of the Tokyo Police Department. He's just been transferred to a new precinct and, wouldn't you know it, a woman gets murdered.
Plot: Kaga is an astute old school detective in the style of Holmes or Poirot. Our hero works slowly and patiently by process of elimination to solve a clever mystery with lots of twists.
Prose: The extreme politeness of the dialogue can sound a little odd to western ears, but is pitch perfect for Japan, as least as I understand it. Nothing even remotely graphic or explicit, which makes a nice change.
Character development: Good, in an understated Japanese way.
Bottom line: Good yarn, deft portrait of life in Japan (I think). Perhaps a tad dull at times, but much easier to understand than Murakami.