Japanese thriller that is not so much a whodunit as a will-they-get-away-with-it?. It’s an intriguing setup, where a shy mathematician decides to help his neighbours cover up a crime. The cops happen to enlist the services of a physicist who is a former colleague of the mathematician. A tripartite dance of logic and deduction ensues. For most of its length. I though this book was pretty ordinary, but then Higashino pulls off a plot twist that leaves you gasping. Very good overall.
56. Big Little Lies
This book opens up a bit like The Slap, where an incident of violence among playing children sets off a chain of events embroiling the parents in acrimonious disputes. It’s set in a kindergarten in a posh Sydney seaside suburb, and the wealthy mother of the injured child wields all of her influence to make life hell for the single mother of the little boy alleged to have hit her. Other mothers who don’t like the wealthy woman much anyway support the newcomer, and it’s on for young and old.
The novel is structured so that the reader is aware that somebody has died as a consequence of all this, but you are kept in the dark as to who that is and how it happens until the last act. The book is an easy and fast read, but it’s not inconsequential, addressing issues such as domestic violence, class snobbery, and single parenthood in an interesting and approachable manner. Recommended.
57. Broken Monsters
A somewhat grisly thriller, which kicks off with the discovery of the corpse of a boy who has been cut in half and attached to a deer’s body. The story revolves around a hard-boiled divorced woman cop, her rebellious teenage daughter, a blogger seeking to become a journalist, a struggling artist and an ex-con trying to go straight. Beukes sets up a pretty good plot, but the last act devolves into a morass of hallucinations, metaphysics and silliness, wasting a lot of good ideas. Pretty unimpressive, given its reputation.