Reviewed by Richard Goldman
Hardcover February 2106
Buy it at Mystery Lovers Bookshop
The Devotion of Suspect X, Higashino's first novel featuring Tokyo homicide detective Kusunagi and his informal consultant, physics professor Manabu Yukawa was an Edgar nominee and one of my favorite novels both that year and since. It was a wonderful combination of puzzle mystery and psychological suspenser with excellent characters and a compelling plot that involved a woman pushed into murder by circumstances beyond her control.
Although A Midsummer's Equation is not the equal of that book it's nonetheless an excellent and enjoyable mystery with the same cast of characters. Taking place in a provincial seaside resort that has seen better days we find a young boy on his way to spend a few weeks, not very enthusistically, with his aunt and uncle who own a small hotel. Enroute he meets Professor Yukawa, the Detective Galileo of the series title, which causes the professor, there on a consulting contract, to stay at the same hotel.
When a guest goes missing and is then found dead on the rocks by the beach it first appears to be an unfortunate accident. Further investigation suggests foul play and when the victim is identified as a retired Tokyo detective the local prefect level police are called in as well as the Tokyo cops including Kusunagi.
The plot unfolds on several tracks comprising the local police, the activities in Tokyo looking into the victims past and especially a murderer he had caught who has ties to the seaside town where the cop died. Finally, the professor pursues his own enigmatic inquiries while giving Kusunagi just enough information to keep him looking for the next link in the chain.
A Midsummer's Equation is a pleasant diversion but start with The Devotion of Suspect X to get the full flavor of this excellent series.