Higashino is being labeled as the next Stieg Larsson and justifiably so. His mystery novels have consistently topped the charts of Japan, often ending up at the top of the most-sold and most-liked rankings. 白夜行 (Byakuyakō) was my first read of his novels and I was pleasantly surprised at the well-crafted mystery that takes place over the course of 19 years, involving a malicious, cunning man and a beautiful, mystical lady who are seemingly unconnected… at first. A veteran police detective chases after the brutal truth and intricate connections between various characters and events. Ultimately it is a novel that is smoothly webbed and not difficult to follow. The shocking turn of events are aplenty to keep the pages turning. By the end, all the loose threads are neatly tied together and closed.
Yet I was left unsatisfied. I felt the whole novel was a tad too long – the last 200 pages were rather tedious. In fact, if he made it that long, he might as well have ended it on a more impressive note. A drawback was the inability to relate to any of the characters. They all have rather extreme personalities, and I can confidently say that even the most unique of us will find the characters and occurring events exceptional. The most we can do is observe what unfolds from a third person view; as entertaining as it was, it lacked the necessary depth. The ending was wholly unsatisfactory. My thought: ‘That’s it?’ It was unnatural, as if the author couldn’t think of a good wrap-up so decided to end it spectacularly; it was far from spectacular, being overshadowed by the immense, grave events prior. But credit must be given where it’s due, and Higashino has written a mystery masterpiece that is a page-turner. If you can stick through all 800 pages and overlook the several faults, you’ll be readily entertained and thrilled.