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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

A Midsummer's Equation

by
Higashino Keigo


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase A Midsummer's Equation



Title: A Midsummer's Equation
Author: Higashino Keigo
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 358 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: A Midsummer's Equation - US
A Midsummer's Equation - UK
A Midsummer's Equation - Canada
A Midsummer's Equation - India
L'équation de plein été - France
  • Japanese title: 真夏の方程式
  • Translated by Alexander O. Smith
  • A volume in the Detective Galileo series

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Our Assessment:

B : putters along nicely enough

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Independent on Sunday . 28/2/2016 Barry Forshaw
The Japan Times . 9/4/2016 Iain Maloney


  From the Reviews:
  • "A Midsummerís Equation has some surprising resonances with the golden age of British crime fiction but thereís nothing wrong with that. What is fully in place, however, is the narrative acumen that has distinguished early entries in the series." - Barry Forshaw, Independent on Sunday

  • "Unfortunately, A Midsummerís Equation is not the highlight of the 'Galileo' series. The resolution is far from surprising and the billed clash between environmentalists and big industry promises more than it delivers, eventually petering out as a minor subplot. The prose, like Yukawa, is methodical and deliberate, and there is very little in the way of action" - Iain Maloney, The Japan Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       A Midsummer's Equation finds Manabu Yukawa, an assistant professor of physics at Imperial University, in the ocean side resort town of Hari Cove. The tourism industry isn't what it used to be and the town has gotten quite sleepy. There's some excitement now, however -- as well as some concern -- about a potential economic boom, as mineral deposits ("hydrothermal polymetallic ore") have been found offshore. Yukawa has been brought in by the company seeking to develop the find to testify at some local hearings -- though as an independent expert (and Yukawa is certainly independent).
       The novel opens with Yukawa arriving by train. Among the other passengers is fifth-grader Kyohei, sent by his parents to stay with an aunt and uncle at their inn. Yukawa comes to stay at the Green Rock Inn as well -- which can certainly use the business: the only other guest is 61-year-old Masatsugu Tsukahara. Meanwhile the daughter of the inn-owners, Narumi, is very active in opposition to the possible offshore-mining, as part of 'Save the Cove'.
       Tsukahara winds up dead, in an apparent accident. Yukawa isn't completely convinced -- and neither are some others: it turns out Tsukahara was a former policeman in Tokyo, and officers from that force wonder what he was up to, starting an investigation.
       At first, no one can figure out what had drawn Tsukahara to Hari Cove, but the reasons become clearer when someone notes that: "He was checking out Senba's house" -- "You know -- Senba, the murderer". Yes, the new crime -- because Tsukahara was murdered -- has to do with an old one, as it turns out Tsukahara was the one who had caught Senba, with the final piece of evidence tying him to the murder of a Nobuko Miyake, for which Senba served an eight-year sentence -- meaning also that, after so many years, he is again a free man. As the police eventually realize:

Tsukahara had Senba's case on his mind. The case might have been officially closed after the arrest, but there was some deeper truth that remained uncovered, and Tsukahara knew it.
       It's that deeper truth that is the key to Tsukahara's own death, and while there are clues about who has reasons to be concerned about the tightening noose, it's only at the very end that all the pieces about both the old and the new crime fall into place.
       Yukawa is only peripherally involved in the investigation, but he figures out some important pieces -- though often teasing the police by suggesting what the police will (or won't) find, predicting, for example, how their attempts to reproduce the carbon monoxide build-up that killed Tsukahara will fail.
       Between Yukawa and Kyohei, Higashino has two very different perspectives on events, both characters nearly in the thick of things but clearly outsiders looking in. The two very different characters also have some nice repartee, with Yukawa a helpful but not pushy mentor-figure, helping Kyohei, and exposing to him a variety of ideas and things. Higashino also adds a nice twist regarding Kyohei's role in events at the inn.
       Not everything works. The far-flung investigation is a bit unfocused -- too many cooks -- while the environmental debate, so prominent early on, isn't seen through very far. But Higashino does use it all to slip in a nice critique of politics and the evaluation, scientific and otherwise, of development projects such as the offshore one being considered here, Yukawa a fine critical figure who remains always the poised and logical scientist.
       A Midsummer's Equation putters along nicely, consistently engaging even if it's not always clear on what track it is. All the padding does also take some attention away from the crime(s), flattening some of their power in their resolutions.
       Fine but unexceptional.

- M.A.Orthofer, 8 March 2016

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Links:

A Midsummer's Equation: Reviews: Other books by Higashino Keigo under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Japanese author Higashino Keigo (東野圭吾) was born in 1958.

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© 2016 the complete review

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