Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.
When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko’s manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there’s something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmanoeuvring and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.
The book is nothing less tricky than the main character Ishigami, who misleads the police investigation of the murder and in the end surprises us to the core. This book is a different and an innovative package. First of all the backdrop is different, a Japanese setup, Japanese names. Tough the murder event is commonplace, it has an intelligent twist. It is not the murder but the after events that are of significance.
The stand out point for this book is that the book is not about how the murder happens or what leads to it. That part of the story moves quite fast and the later part, the plan for escape is the main story. And another highlight is, this book is not about the who-is-the-murderer search. Here the murderer and his plan is right there for us to read, know his moves, yet it succeeds in engaging us. It’s completely different than the usual mystery novels that we read.
The character build up is very strong and after a few pages, we have all these character ready in our mind playing their role. I liked the fact that, initially we get familiar with the characters and with time we get to understand the characters more but by the end of the novel we know their complete personality.
The relationship between mother and daughter even tough written less about, is enough to get the subtlety of the relation across. Also the friendship between the two researchers and between the physicist and the detective is quite well built. It’s a fast read and after first 40 pages you get eager to turn the page. Although I wish the end would have been different but… There is a film that is in making and it will be interesting to watch it.
I recommend this book and my rating is 4 out of 5 stars.