Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Mystery Bucket

Keigo Higashino - A Midsummer’s Equation

After my first year at college was over, I realised it had been long, since I’d picked up a novel, and immersed myself in its pages. So, to end the dry spell, I found myself a brand new Higashino and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

In the beginning of the book, we find ourselves in a small pristine countryside suburb of Japan, called Hari Cove, where tourism is the main source of livelihood for the people. However with the recent trend of visiting Hawaii, Hari was thrown into a state of destitution. In this scenario, an underwater mining company DESMEC, divides the town into two factions. One faction believed that the mining project would bring jobs and prosperity to the village that was spiralling into poverty and joblessness. On the other hand, the other faction felt a pull towards their duty to protect the serenity of their coastline, as their town would no longer boast of such a pristine and varied coral life, if the waters were subjected to mining. In the midst of this tumultuous situation, the sleepy town of Hari witnesses a suicide committed by one of the members of the DESMEC meetings, Tsukahara. The local police first identifies it simply as an accident, but when they learn about the identity of the victim and the cause of death, it jolts Hari right out of its slumber. The local police are pulled into days of investigation taking orders from the prefectural police sent by the director of Tokyo homicide, Tatara, to look into the case of the Tsukahara’s sudden demise.

We bear witness to this entire situation from the household of the Kawahatas, where a fifth grader, Kyohei, has come to spend a chunk of his summer with his aunt and uncle. Little did he know, it would be such an unforgettable trip. The Kawahatas run an inn, called the Green Rock Inn, and Tsukahara, and Manabu Yukawa, the physicist from The Imperial University, put up there for the duration of the conferences held by DESMEC. After the Tsukahara incident, the physicist yet again finds himself enmeshed in another confounding murder case, but this time, enjoying a veil of anonymity, for the local police are oblivious to his reputation, let alone his nickname of Detective Galileo. Working under this guise, Galileo does his investigation unfettered, willingly, for the first time, without any pleads from his friend, Kusanagi, a homicide detective. What was it about this case that compelled Yukawa to get involved?

As the plot develops, Yukawa and Kusanagi, uncover truths that are take them decades into Tsukahara’s past. With the investigation going on in multiple suburbs of Tokyo and in Hari simultaneously, the reader is absorbed throughout the sleuthing, busy calculating the plot development in various locations and trying to piece it all together. Each page brings to the reader a new revelation, which doesn’t solve the mystery as much as entangle it further. Yet the plot meanders its way to a satisfying, but disconcerting end, where we are shocked and a little dismayed at the same time.

In the book, we discover a new aspect to the character of Yukawa, the cold and pragmatic physicist, through the presence of Kyohei. A camaraderie is forged between Kyohei and Yukawa, where they spend time together discussing simple basic principles of math and science that Kyohei must apply in school. They discover what the name of the village, Hari means and understand why a faction of the town is feeling so protective about the waters around them and how it gives life to them.

“It didn’t bother me. It excited my curiosity. And I believe there is no greater sin than to leave one’s curiosity unsatisfied.”

Submission by - Ishita Shah