Keigo Higashino, Salvation of a Saint (2018, translated by Alexander O Smith, Abacus 2012)
This is exactly the kind of book I’ve decided not to read any more – the novel equivalent of a run-of-the-mill police detective TV series. But I’d borrowed it from the Book Club, and the cover quoted The Times saying Keigo Higashino is ‘ the Japanese Stieg Larsson’ so I read it.
Evidently it’s part of a series, the second to be translated into English, featuring Tokyo police detective Kusanagi, his retired scientist consultant–friend Professor Yukawa and junior-detective-who-brings-a-woman’s-insight, Utsumi.
It’s pleasant enough, once you get past the very telling writing (as in not showing), like an episode of Jonathan Creek. It pretty much tells you who done it on page 5 before the murder has even happened, and from then on the question is how.
If there’s any wider social observation it’s been lost in translation. I don’t mean that Alexander O Smith has done a bad job. As far as I can tell the translation itself is fine. But if, for example, there are subtle comments about cultural change in modern Japan, they are too subtle to cross the East-West divide. Unless something huge has been lost, the only possible justification for the comparison to Stieg Larsson is that the series is very popular. There is certainly none of Larsson’s politics.
Also: the title doesn’t make sense.
As we say in the Book Club, 2 out of 5.
Higashi Keigo has written such a large number of books it’s amazing, he practically has a whole bookshelf at some Japanese bookstores.
I’ve read 3-4 of of his books in Japanese, and generally they weren’t that memorable. However there was one I really liked, though I don’t think it has an English translation:
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Thanks for that. It makes the blurb from the Times look even less accurate, given that Stieg Larssen wrote a handful of books and then died before any were published. It also explains what there’s just the one idea – one idea a book is plenty if you’ve got a lot to write. The translation I found for the book you mention is The spell of the great detective.
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