In the first of a new series for Japanese author Keigo Higashino (nominated for an Edgar for The Devotion of Suspect X), bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found dead inside his locked office by his wife and an old childhood friend, Osamu Nonoguchi, also an author. Police detective Kyochiro Kaga quickly zeroes in on the prime murder suspect and gets a confession, though he finds some details in the story at odds with the evidence. Worse, the killer refuses to give a motive, and without one, Kaga doesn't think he can get a conviction.

Kaga delves into Hidaka's and Nonoguchi's shared past, going back to their elementary-school years. What he finds are conflicting, decades-spanning stories of bullying, jealousy, infidelity and, like the novel's title, just plain malice.

The story unfolds via its two narrators--Nonoguchi and Detective Kaga. It's a classic cat-and-mouse game, with Nonoguchi doing his best to obfuscate while Kaga slowly but surely cuts through to the truth. Kaga is like a Japanese Columbo, repeatedly saying he's not bright enough to grasp the literary brilliance of Hidaka's work (which he has to read as part of the investigation), but then he'll ask just one more question that reveals how sharp his mind is. He's certainly ahead of readers, because even near the end, the truth of the mystery remains elusive. When Kaga's solution is finally revealed, it's quietly devastating. The detective is an engaging protagonist, and we look forward to following him in future installments. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Powered by: Xtenit