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Book review: 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 by Keigo Higashino

Introduction

Title: 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 (はくばさんそうさつじんじけん)
Author: Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾)
Published by 光文社文庫

『白馬山荘殺人事件』 is one of Keigo Higashino’s first novels. First published by 光文社 in 1986, the book got its first 文庫 edition in 1990 and got a new re-print this year (2020) with a new cover design and a bigger font.

Review

The more I read Keigo Higashino, the more I think that I like his earlier writings the most (with the exception of the Kaga series, for which I find that the books get better and better). Based on the books that I have read that date from the late 80s and early 90s like 『白馬山荘殺人事件』, 『仮面山荘殺人事件』 or 『回廊亭の殺人』, I find that the story is mainly focused on solving the murder and revealing the truth rather than going deep into the characters’ life or feelings. All three novels set their story in a remote place, with a limited number of characters and even if the end did not always convince me, I found these novels extremely engrossing. Later writings seem to expand the story in terms of place and time, with characters and topics that are more complex like 『虚ろな十字架』, 『夢幻花』 or 『流星の絆』, but they also get away from the old-fashioned whodunnit setting.

In detective fiction, I like nothing more than having a bunch of characters all in one place, a corpse, and a professional or amateur detective trying to sort things out, while a second murder is on the making, so I was bound to love 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 . Keigo Higashino also added a mysterious code to crack to spice things up.

I would not say that 『白馬山荘殺人事件』 belongs to the best Higashino I have read (the Kaga series remains by far the best books to me), but it read quickly, was entertaining and delivered exactly what I was expecting from a detective story. I would say that it lacked a little in terms of suspense, but overall, it was a very engrossing read.

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