A MIDSUMMER'S EQUATION
A Detective Galileo Mystery
By Keigo Higashino (translated Alexander O. Smith), 2016
The setting of this novel couldn't be more topical – a coastal resort town is sharply divided over plans for an underwater mining operation. Known for its pristine waters, the now fading town's future seems to depend on the hotly contested debate about mining the seabed for minerals or protecting the environment.
The morning after a tense meeting a guest at the resort is found dead at the base of the cliffs nearby. The local police believe it was a simple accident, but the deceased turns out to be a former Tokyo detective.
The physicist known as 'Detective Galileo,' Manabu Yukawa, is staying at the same resort and starts to question if the death was anything but accidental. In a series of unpredictable revelations, Galileo uncovers the long-hidden secrets and deception that lie behind the death.
An eccentric genius, Detective Galileo, tells another character in the book that “I believe there is no greater sin than to leave one's curiosity unsatisfied. Curiosity is the fuel that powers the engine of human advancement.”
A Midsummer's Equation is a satisfying read. Fans of international crime fiction will appreciate the setting and other readers intrigued by the numerous layers of the plot. The novel has a 'golden age' set-up familiar from the classic murder mystery novels from the 1920's and 30's, but a contemporary theme.
Twenty-five years ago the novelist, Keigo Higashino, worked as an engineer in a car parts company and wrote stories in the evening and on weekends for three years before becoming a full-time writer. Today his books sell millions of copies and have won numerous awards. Many of his books have been made into TV series and feature films in Japan and elsewhere.
In 2011 Higashino told the Wall Street Journal: “Some writers aim to move their readers, others want to write beautiful sentences. I want readers to be continually surprised by my ideas. Murder mysteries cross between cultures because people have bad sides as well as good. People show their true natures in the act of committing a crime.”
Reviewed by Lois Isaac