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 outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.
Since the entire plot is set inJapan, it might take a while to get used to the names and places and relate to them. The language is pretty simple and makes it for an easy read.
The most wonderful thing about the book is how it fuses Math, Physics and logic in solving a murder mystery.
The reader is aware of the killer and yet there is this is nagging feeling that something is amiss. There is an altogether new story that is woven in towards the end. Though it gives an all new twist to the book, it’s actually depressing and the climax seems forced.
The title of the book is just plain brilliant and is an easy clue to the entire plot.
Keigo Higashino shrewdly and subtly induces the reader to contemplate the immeasurable complexities of the human psyche by questioning what motivates one human being to judge who is worthy of life, and who is not.
This is not a run of the mill whodunit nor an elaborately staged mystery. When you get to the end, when you race to the end, you’ll slap your head like I did and realize how simple, but brilliant the story is.