What attracted me to this book was the quote on its cover “The Japanese Stieg Larsson – The Times”. I have had the opportunity to read only one of Stieg Larsson’s works and I absolutely LOVED it! So when this book came up on BlogAdda’s Review list, I knew I just had to apply for it. So I did and am GLAD that I did. The book is absolutely amazing and totally mind blowing!
The first thing that stands out about this book is its plot. It is quite unique in the sense that it takes a path that very few authors have ever taken. We are so used to getting a bit background on the protagonists, then the crime takes place and we follow the protagonists’ journey towards solving the crime and playing the ‘guessing game’ along the ride. That’s the well-trodden path that most crime / thriller / mystery stories take. But in this case, the perpetrator is pointed out towards the very beginning of the book. So, it is not really a ‘whodunit’ sort of mystery. But that doesn't really take the thrill out of the book. In fact, it’s this very twist in the plot that grips you from the beginning. Then there are still a hell lot of twists and turns in the novel that will keep you on the edge, play a different guessing game and simply keep turning the pages until the very last chapter.
The most important thing to me in a book is the ‘characters’. An amazing plot is often ruined by average characters or poor characterizations. While often strong characters with good development through the book often raise an average plot to something more. This book has really strong characters that go well with the book. First is Ishigami, a middle grade mathematics teacher. He is introduced to us as a plain and simple math teacher who is often appalled by the quality of his students. He is a genius who loves to work on theorems on his own and then prove them too. Then there is Manabu, a brilliant physicist who often counsels his detective friend. These two geniuses – the mathematician and the physicist, are pitted against each other. The way they work through covering up and trying to solve the crime is just brilliant. That’s another thing that elevates the class of this novel. Then there are Yasuko, Misato and Kusanagi, who also play very important roles in the novel.
The writing style of the author is very graphic. Whether describing the locations or writing out a conversation or just describing some very simple actions of his characters, Kiego manages to paint a very vivid picture for us readers. He also manages to give us a glimpse into the lives of average Japanese people and snippets of his take on the current status of the society of his country. Also there’s a lot of math and science involved. So a reader needs to really focus and try and understand certain concepts and the deductions. It got a bit difficult for me at places to understand those, but then that’s my weakness of the subjects that are to be blamed!
Of course, here we should also acknowledge the great work done by Alexander O. Smith while translating. Often the charm of a story is lost in its translation since there are word-meanings, grammar and simply the charm of the original language all to be kept in mind while translating. A very difficult job handled in a very beautiful way.
Overall, THIS IS A MUST READ for anyone who likes a good crime / thriller / mystery novel. So go grab your copy already!!
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