Malice – Book review of a dark mystery thriller

Namo Namaha. As mentioned in my earlier review post I started reading Malice as soon as I finished The Devotion of Suspect X, the review of which you can read here. I finished Malice in a day and this is my review post of the same. Malice is another one of Keigo Higashino’s masterpieces. Honestly, he’s spoiling the mystery-thriller genre for me. I am wondering if I’ll have the motivation to pick up other books from this genre after reading thrillers with such depth. Only time can tell I guess… Anyway, let’s move on to the review.

Book Name – Malice
Author – Keigo Higashino
Genre – Crime Mystery Thriller
Publisher – Minotaur Books
Year of publication – 2014
Goodreads rating – 3.95

Synopsis

Buy your copy here.

A famous author, Kunihiko Hidaka, is found dead in his study by his wife and his best friend. Detective Kyochiro Kaga begins investigating the case and realizes the best friend Nonoguchi is an old colleague of his, from when they both were teachers. Caught up with his impressions of Nonoguchi and the unearthing of new information related to the case, Kaga finds himself in a quagmire of questions that he tenaciously seeks answers to.

Ruminations

I must admit this is one book that I hated as much as I loved it. I hated it in the beginning but eventually came to love it especially towards the end. It was like that bitter potion you hate to take but feel better after taking it. I was initially irked by how casually the police spoke with the prime suspect. About the fact that nobody is bothered about the suspects taking a hike once they know that the police have caught on to their trick? But the third act of the story more than made up for any deficiencies the story had, if any.

It began just as The Devotion of Suspect X and I was a bit too confident of my deciphering skills and assumed I already knew the plot. But, boy! was I so wrong! I absolutely couldn’t have guessed the direction the story took and that’s quite impressive. Most novels have thrilling twists but making them so real that you force out reactions from the reader? Now, that’s a talent.

What appealed to me?

Just as in The Devotion of Suspect X, it all begins with the title of the novel. In most other novels, titles encompass a general theme. But I think Keigo begins the story with the title the way Indian ladies begin their Rangolis with a single dot/line. So systematic, precise and ultimately beautiful that you wouldn’t believe this wonder began with a simple dot/line. Keigo’s novels have that appeal for me because even though the plot gives an impression of being complicated. It’s pretty simple and obvious in the end.

As usual, I cannot talk much about the plot as I don’t want to spoil the story for anybody and in stories such as these everything is a clue, everything is a prop to move the story forward so I can’t be careless with my commentary.

Suffice to say I guessed a few things, but they were red herrings and absolutely irrelevant. I threw wild guesses that made me feel like a fool. But I tried guessing, kept at it, and that’s the success of this novel. Keeping the readers guessing, engaged and interested in the novel is what every thriller aspires to isn’t it? For me, thrillers are one time reads but Malice and The Devotion of Suspect X will definitely be in my re-read piles. Because once is just not enough!

I did like Malice better than The Devotion of Suspect X, mainly because I knew nothing about the plot beforehand. Also, there was much more sleuthing involved in this than in the other one and that tilted my preference towards Malice.

What didn’t appeal to me?

As opposed to Keigo‘s earlier novel I didn’t care for any of the characters in this book. I felt a strange detachment with this book. Yes, the writing was good, the plot excellent but the characters? All of them were bland, inadequate and forgettable. Also, I had issues with people going unpunished for crimes; even if it’s done only once or when they didn’t know any better. I am not comfortable with how society seemed to absorb criminals without any consequences.
I wouldn’t be friends with a person if I knew they were involved in a heinous crime and went unpunished for it. Even if I were friends with such a person I probably wouldn’t be fool enough to trust them again.

Conclusion

Malice has pulled me into the ‘Keigo Higashino fan universe’. I don’t see an escape from his books any time soon. Did I say that I have already started reading his Midsummer’s equation? Yeah, that’s how obsessed I currently am with his novels. I have a huge TBR this month but instead of reducing them I am picking up more Keigo novels. Still, no regrets. I think four of his Japanese novels have been translated and I am done with two of them, two more to go. Probably have to sneak them into my ever-growing TBR pile. What say you? 🙂

Review, recommendation, and rating

Borrow – A book worth borrowing from the library or trading with friends

Rrkreads rating – Borrow grade. Best book to get started with Keigo Higashino’s style of writing. And if you like his style then do Invest in it.

My GoodReads rating – 4.5 stars

So friends, over to you now. Have you read this book? What are your opinions and pet peeves? Do let me know in the comments section. I’ll be glad to chat. Till then, bear no malice, stay blessed and happy. Om Shanti.

3 thoughts on “Malice – Book review of a dark mystery thriller”

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