Book Review: Newcomer

I discovered Keigo Higashino’s books earlier this year and I simply loved the author’s brilliant storytelling skills. I was super hyped about reading this book and the author hasn’t disappointed. Newcomer is part of the Detective Kaga series but it can be perfectly read as a standalone. Fans of cozy mysteries or old school detective stories will love this book.

The premise is simple. Detective Kyoichiro Kaga has recently been transferred to the Nihonbashi precinct. He is immediately assigned to solve the murder of a divorced woman who is living alone in a studio apartment. But the more he investigates, the greater number of potential suspects emerges. To solve the mystery, Kaga must interview the people working in the neighborhood and it turns out that all of them have secrets, which may be a motive to commit murder.

Like every other Higashino novel, this one is also different from traditional crime fiction. In Devotion of Suspect X, the murderer was revealed in the beginning and the whole story revolved around the cover up. In Malice, the murderer is soon found out but the focus is on finding the motive behind the crime. The Higashino touch in this novel is that we don’t get to hear Kaga’s POV until the very end.  Also the author reveals nothing about the murdered woman or the suspects in the beginning.

The book is divided into a series of nine chapters. Each chapter features a specific business owner or worker in Nihonbashi. You get introduced to so many new characters in every chapter, but it doesn’t get confusing at all. And therein lies the beauty of Higashino’s writing. Each character is somehow connected with the murdered woman, and Detective Kaga methodically employs the process of elimination until he finally nabs the murderer.

I took a little time to adjust to the format, but soon found myself drawn deeper into the mystery. Each story is quite compelling in its own way, and by the end of Kaga’s investigation, each character discovers a little something that gives them a fresh perspective. This was a laid back mystery which is focused more on the lives of the suspects than the actual crime. During his investigation, Kaga discovers secrets of the suspects and helps them in solving their problems. He not only solves the murder but also touches the lives of all the suspects with his kindness and leaves everyone except the murderer in a better place.

Kyoichiro Kaga doesn’t come across as a brilliant, extra ordinary detective like Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes but he is a likable character. He is very clever with incredible observational skills. He is kind and is able to draw people and gets them to confide in him. His only flaw is that he gets too emotionally involved with the suspects.

This is a clever mystery with plenty of charm and intrigue. At the same time, it also provides insights into Japanese culture and traditions. It is centered more around a host of diverse and wide ranging characters who come alive as distinct personalities with their own personal stories. What I liked about the book is that it is not in any way graphic or otherwise explicit. There are no gory or disturbing details of the crime, no autopsy reports and forensic details and is not action packed or too fast paced.

If you are looking for a fast paced read thriller, then this book is not for you. However, if you like smart and intelligent crime fiction featuring a detective who uses his powers of deduction to solve a crime, then this book will definitely appeal to you.

My Rating: 4/5

Title: Newcomer

Author: Keigo Higashino

Genres: Fiction, Mystery

Originally published: 18 September 2009

Page Count: 352

Series: Kyoichiro Kaga #8

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