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Book review: 嘘をもうひとつだけ by 東野圭吾

「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is the 6th book of the Kaga series 加賀恭一郎シリーズ by Higashino Keigo. If you are not familiar with this series, it features detective 加賀恭一郎 Kaga Kyoichiro and is composed of 10 books. The first novel of the series was one of the first novels written by Higashino Keigo (「卒業」was published in 1989*) and the last one 「祈りの幕が下りる時」is very recent since it was published in 2016.

Why I love this series

I really like detective Kaga because he is very different from other contemporary detectives that all seem to share the same flaws: bad temper, tobacco or alcohol problem (if not worse), a haunting past, very disagreeable manners and tone, conflicting relation with hierarchy, impossible personality and so on.

Kaga Kyoichiro is, on the contrary, described as a very polite person, always using the most beautiful honorific language. To be honest, as every Japanese learner maybe, I have always been unwilling to learn the honorific verbs and expressions. But, reading several books featuring Kaga somewhat made me see the honorific language as something cool and something I want to master.

The fact that Kaga has been a kendo champion also plays on his personality. He is always calm and composed, observes the opposite party and asks relevant questions. His investigation is very thorough. If he sometimes seems to know everything, it is the result of a careful and methodical investigation associated with some logical deduction.

Another point that makes detective Kaga different from other police detectives is that he is often seen from the point of view of another character. As a consequence, it is difficult to know what he thinks, what conclusions he has reached and who he suspects. This is even truer given that we often see Kaga, not from the point of view of a colleague, but from the point of view of the suspect or one of the suspects. This is to me the most interesting feature of the series. The reader finds himself or herself on the side of the suspects and Kaga’s appearances, questions and deductions are quite frightening.

Why you can start by 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」

As I said in the introduction, 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is the 6th book of the series. However, if you want to read one book of the series without really wanting to read all the novels, this one is a good choice.

First of all, 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is not a novel but a collection of short stories. They are not supposed to happen before or after the other stories, even though the first short story hints at the second novel of the series by saying that Kaga is familiar with the world of the ballet. But this is just a detail that does not matter at all for the understanding of the story. Therefore, you don’t need to have read the other novels to read this collection of short stories, and nothing in it will spoil the previous cases.

Furthermore, these short stories are a great presentation of detective Kaga. To me, they could be trailers for the series, showing how Kaga works and providing a condensé of the most exciting moments of a detective novel: the discovery of the crime scene, the interrogation of the suspect, the final confrontation, etc. In fact, I think that you could read this book to see whether you like or not this style and if you do, go on with the other novels.

Why 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」 is easy to read for Japanese learners

I already said that some novels by Higashino Keigo were relatively easy to read. It is even more applicable to「嘘をもうひとつだけ」because it has the advantage of being short. The whole book is only 269 pages long, and each of the 5 short stories is around 50 pages long. They are mainly composed of dialogues, which makes them even easier to understand.

Another thing that greatly facilitates the understanding is that they are all structured more or less in the same way, with very little characters involved. Either the story is entirely composed of a long dialogue between Kaga and another character (the first and the last short stories), either the story follows the same pattern: it opens with one character confronted with a murder, and detective Kaga will appear several times, resulting in the story being composed of several dialogues, flashbacks and some short narrative parts.

Conclusion

The reason why I loved 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is because they really feature detective Kaga. Even if he is not the central character of the stories, he is very present, contrary to the 5th and 6th book of the series. The cases were very intriguing too and even if I do prefer reading long novels, reading this book was very entertaining, and I highly recommend it!

* The publication date is the one from 講談社文庫

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