Malice (The Kyochiro Kaga Series Book 1) by Keigo Higashino (Translated by Alexander O. Smith)

Edgar Award Finalist

Book blurb

Acclaimed bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka is found brutally murdered in his home on the night before he’s planning to leave Japan and relocate to Vancouver. His body is found in his office, a locked room, within his locked house, by his wife and his best friend, both of whom have rock solid alibis. Or so it seems.

At the crime scene, Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga recognizes Hidaka’s best friend, Osamu Nonoguchi. Years ago when they were both teachers, they were colleagues at the same public school. Kaga went on to join the police force while Nonoguchi eventually left to become a full-time writer, though with not nearly the success of his friend Hidaka.

As Kaga investigates, he eventually uncovers evidence that indicates that the two writers’ relationship was very different than they claimed, that they were anything but best friends. But the question before Kaga isn’t necessarily who, or how, but why. In a brilliantly realized tale of cat and mouse, the detective and the killer battle over the truth of the past and how events that led to the murder really unfolded. And if Kaga isn’t able to uncover and prove why the murder was committed, then the truth may never come out.

My thoughts

I’m trying to catch up on writing my thoughts for several books at the moment so as this is a book club read and there is the video below I’m keeping this to a short comment.

We are finding out what happened through written testimony from the main characters which may be why this aspect of the book comes across more authoritatively and why it’s manipulation of the reader is done so well.

Detective Kyoichiro Kaga ‘knows’, rather than suspects, who the murderer is before gathering much evidence seems a little unusual. Having said that there is a confession early on so this is not the typical whodunnit we may expect from a police investigation.

Still some evidence is uncovered and Kaga continues his investigation not to find out whodunnit but to understand why.

The motive, based in the past, is unusual. Although, as you will hear in the book club discussion, this behaviour is, it seems, quite common in Japanese culture.

There are twists and turns in the storyline. Which, added to the fact that the early part of the book (especially as I have not read anything from this author before) really has you in quite a different frame of mind until Kaga begins to unravel it through his investigation, really can take you by surprise. So, whilst it may seem a bit convoluted, it is certainly a complex plot and a clever piece of writing.

I found Malice by Keigo Higashino interesting and a different kind of crime novel. I enjoyed the setting. It’s always good to see how murder investigations are or may be conducted in different countries. The characters are a bit quirky and apart from Kaga I’m not sure how much I liked them!

I did enjoy the book it was intriguing, something different which made a change from the British, Canadian , American police investigations that I so enjoy and usually read.

This is a well paced, absorbing book and well worth reading.

Book: Purchased

Malice was Septembers A Virtual Crime Book Club’s read you can see what every thought by watching below but be warned ⚠️ there may be spoilers ⚠️ So, if you’re wanting to read Malice maybe check the video out later.

October’s book club read, meeting on 10 October, will be One Lost Soul by J M Dalgliesh.

If you would like to join the book club you can sign up on author and our wonderful host Rebecca Bradley’s blog


Published: ‎ Little, Brown Book Group (9 Oct. 2014)

Malice is the English translation of the Japanese novel Akui published in 1996. The translator is Alexander O. Smith.

Buy: Waterstones | Your local bookshop | AmazonSmileUK | (affiliate link)

Author: Keigo Higashino is the single bestselling, best-known novelist in Japan and around Asia, with numerous television and film adaptations of his work appearing in several languages. He’s the author of The Devotion of Suspect X, which was the finalist for the Edgar Award for best novel, and Malice, among many others. He lives in Tokyo, Japan.

Little Brown: Author page

4 Comments on “Malice (The Kyochiro Kaga Series Book 1) by Keigo Higashino (Translated by Alexander O. Smith)

  1. Pleased that you liked it, Janet. I love Japanese literature but am never sure if I should recommend it to others, as it is often very different and I’ve had disappointed readers before!

    Liked by 1 person

    • MarinaSofia I did enjoy it. I often wonder about recommending books but if it’s via my blog then most readers, those that see a few posts, will know the type of book I generally read so they can have a feel for whether they have similar taste to mine in which case they are quite likely to know if they want to try out my recommendation or not. For the more casual visitor it may be a bit different perhaps they are searching for something new to them or just getting into reading a particular genre/author or have heard about a particular book and are checking out what people think about it. I’m sure either way that folk will understand that recommendations are made in good faith and that even if there is a commonality of taste there is always the chance that a book may not be enjoyed as much by them as by myself.
      As for Japanese literature I’ve not read much of it but have generally enjoyed what I have read. I find that is the joy of blogs, other recommendations and book clubs that my reading is expanded into worlds I may not otherwise have ventured and wouldn’t that be a shame.
      I do hope you keep making your recommendations because even if some are disappointed there are all those who will enjoy them and thank you for bringing new worlds to them. Janet


      • It’s more the ‘in real life’ friends that I worry about, especially since they don’t tend to be such inveterate readers as all of my blogger friends!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, indeed that is a tricky one! I have friends who I will recommend to as I know they enjoy reading but I too am never quite sure if it’s a good (or bad!) recommendation unless they let me know. In the end I think friends may take a look but only read it if it’s one that strikes a chord with them. Friends understand us and won’t worry about our (over!) enthusiasm for a book it’s probably part of why we are friends. In the end they can always (politely or not!) tell me to stop going on about a particular book or indeed the general subject. I don’t take offence and I’m sure it’s the same with them if I don’t have quite the same enthusiasm for their recommendations or other pursuits. Life, in the end, is too short to worry over many things and as long as we are kind to each other and just sharing our enthusiasm I think we can be forgiven the odd duff recommendation. Be yourself, that’s what they like about you.



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