Summary: When a man is found murdered in an abandoned building in Osaka in 1973, unflappable detective Sasagaki is assigned to the case. He begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are inextricably linked to the crime; the dark, taciturn son of the victim Ryojin Kirihara and the unexpectedly captivating daughter Yukiho Nishimoto of the main suspect. Over the next twenty years we follow their lives as Sasagaki pursues the case – which remains unsolved – to the point of obsession.
“If a wild cat is adopted when she has grown up a little, although she is friendly, she never really lets her guard down.”
I know right away whenever I find another favorite author: Keigo Higashino just joined the list! Journey Under the Midnight Sun is one of Higashino’s most favorite novels and was made into a TV series under the same name, a Japanese film (Into the White Night) and a Korean film (White Night). You can find Into the White Night’s trailer here. One thing to notice that all the quotes are my own translations, because I read the book in Vietnamese this time.
Without the sun
Higashino likes to describe eyes: mean eyes, cat eyes, or cold stare. Personally I think it is a tricky way to reveal some of hints, or direct your attention to a certain character. In fact, he never meant to hide the culprits until the end. Journey Under the Midnight Sun is more than just a pure crime novel; and justice was not carried out the way it should be. You will not be led through the story by the main detective: in fact, Sagasaki appears less than half of the 13 chapters. Instead, the author walks you through an uncomplete jigsaw that paints the dark and twisted lives of Ryojin Kirihara, the victim’s son and Yukiho Nishimoto, the main suspect’s daughter. They appear in a story through a veil: they are put into intricate relationships with people around them; their actions are told and retold by different people; and nowhere in the novel that you find the two cross paths except for once. They are like two parallel lines of the railroad, crossing only at the infinity.
“I have the sun, so I’m not afraid to lose it.”
Journey Under the Midnight Sun will leave you with tons of unanswered questions. And the biggest one is definitely about the real relationship between Ryojin and Yukiho. [PERSONAL DISCUSSION ABOUT THE MAIN THEME THAT DOES NOT REVEAL IMPORTANT DETAILS] I don’t buy into the theory that they are in love: it’s too simple to explain everything. Ryojin is protecting something bigger than love – something, as they have realized long ago, already broken: their innocence, and their souls. They are two empty shelves left without being able to make things right ever again.
Captivating with simplicity
Although Higashino’s writing style is simple and straight forward, he definitely knows how to play with suspense. You won’t get frustrated with lengthy scenery descriptions. Soon you realize that you can guess things along the way, and you don’t want to miss out a single detail. Yet you want to hurry because the twist always so cleverly lies in the last few sentences of each chapter. Truly captivating.
“Yet, monsters will not spare you even if you are a child.”
Another thing worth mentioning is that the book, jumping between supporting characters and side stories, is long and difficult to follow. Journey Under the Midnight Sun reminded me of Confessions, a thriller that jumps between different perspectives – one of the best Japanese movie I have ever watched. Personally, I like how the author gradually develops the plot with side stories: it highlights his ability to tie everything back together (and yet prey on our minds with unsolved mysteries). Plus why would anyone want such a mind-blowing book to end early?!
Hope you enjoy ! xD