“Newcomer” is the second Detective Kyochiro Kaga mystery translated from Japanese into English after “Malice“, back in 2014. Having been demoted from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s elite Homicide Division, Kaga now finds himself working in the Nihonbashi Precinct; specifically a murder in Kodenmacho, where Mineko Mitsui, a woman with seemingly no enemies, was discovered strangled in her apartment.
Kaga’s investigation unfolds through the eyes of various inhabitants of the neighbourhood. The detective’s deliberations and observations are shrouded from the reader; we are mere witnesses to his brilliant deductions. It’s an interesting narrative choice, but without access to his thoughts and feelings, or any idea of what he does when he’s not hunting bad guys, there’s nothing to latch onto, no emotional connection to Kaga; he is too enigmatic to be a memorable protagonist, at least based on this novel alone.
As he interposes himself in the lives of the Kodenmacho locals, their stories start to intersect in unexpected ways. The beauty of their associations is that they’re neither far-flung or forced; there’s not some mass conspiracy among the shopkeepers in Kodenmacho tied to Mineko’s murder; they’re linked in the subtlest of ways. And just when you think Higashino is leading you to an a-ha! revelatory moment, or indeed a denouement, we learn it’s merely another red-herring or building block towards determining the true killer. If only the climactic revelation that establishes the killer’s motive was as ingenious as the preceding twists and turns. Rather than end with a thunderclap, “Newcomer” ends with a rumble. Still, there’s enough here to warrant a second visit to Keigo Higashino’s Tokyo.
Format: Paperback / softback
Imprint: Little, Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 20-Nov-2018
Country of Publication: United Kingdom