Under the Midnight Sun, by Keigo Higashino
Genres: Adult, Mystery-Thriller, Japanese Literature
“Sometimes I feel like I spend my life under a midnight sun.”
TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains depictions of rape. Please be advised.
I was enjoying this book up until the very end – and I mean the last few pages. Perhaps two stars is too bitter, but to tell you the truth, I’m pissed off.
For the past week, my life has been work, K-Pop, and Under the Midnight Sun. I would squeeze as many pages as I could into my break and before I went to bed, sometimes staying up until 3:00 a.m. because I couldn’t put it down. Keigo Higashino has an engrossing and yet somewhat straightforward way of telling his stories, as I saw when I read Malice not too long ago. Under the Midnight Sun is broader and more character-driven, which meant dedicating not just more time, but more energy into reading it.
The plot is like a target: one giant bulls-eye surrounded by other, smaller points that span over the length of twenty years. It branches off to explore both Yukiho and Ryo’s lives after the murder, sometimes telling the story from the most obscure characters to get the picture of how it affected them. Toward the end when Sasagaki, the detective who was first assigned to the case, gets back into the picture, things began to move toward the center as everything that has happened points back to twenty years ago.
But not everything gets answered.
A lot of things are assumed, but not everything is answered directly, especially the finer points concerning the connection between Yukiho and Ryo. This is critical because it would define the terms of their relationship, their individual personalities, and motive. Questions are asked and never clarified – for instance, was Yukiho in love with Kazunari? Did she set up the attack on Eriko, her best friend, because she was dating him? Or was Kazunari’s ex-girlfriend to blame?
These are all things that are brought up, and a reader can imagine it however they like, but what’s more fun than figuring the mystery out for yourself is getting the answers to find out if you’re right. The biggest one – who the murderer is, obviously – is easy in comparison. What’s more interesting is everything that is tied to it.
Also, this is is just a personal opinion, because I can see how they relate to the story in the end, but the sex scenes made me uncomfortable. They’re abrupt and fly a bit out of nowhere, and I was relieved to get through them.
Reading this book is a commitment, but I don’t think it is a very gratifying one.