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Malice by Keigo Higashino – A Detailed Book Review

Introduction to “Malice” by Keigo Higashino

Keigo Higashino’s “Malice” is one of the most cunning and compelling mysteries from a master of the genre. Published in 1996 and later translated into English, this novel continues to demonstrate Higashino’s prowess in crafting intricate plots that captivate and challenge readers. As I delve into this book, I’ll explore its plot intricacies, characters, and the unique aspects that make Higashino’s work stand out in the crowded field of mystery fiction.

Plot Overview

“Malice” follows the story of bestselling novelist Kunihiko Hidaka, who is found murdered in his locked home on the eve of his relocation to Canada. His friend and fellow author, Osamu Nonoguchi, discovers the body alongside the victim’s wife. What initially appears to be a straightforward case of murder slowly unravels into a complex psychological battle of wits. The detective leading the case, Kyochiro Kaga, a former colleague of Nonoguchi, soon discovers inconsistencies in Nonoguchi’s account, leading to an enthralling investigation that delves deep into the past of the individuals involved.

Characters and Development

Osamu Nonoguchi

Nonoguchi, the narrator for parts of the novel, initially seems like a mild-mannered, unambitious author, which contrasts sharply with his successful friend Hidaka. His reliability as a narrator is skillfully challenged, however, as Detective Kaga uncovers layers of jealousy and deception. Exploring Nonoguchi’s true nature and his complex relationship with Hidaka was a riveting experience for me, as it beautifully showcased Higashino’s ability to develop character-driven suspense.

Kyochiro Kaga

Detective Kaga is methodical and insightful, embodying the ideal detective whose sharp intellect cuts through the web of lies. His persistence and attention to detail are critical in piecing together the motive and method behind the murder. Kaga’s interactions with Nonoguchi are a highlight of the novel, providing a fascinating cat-and-mouse dynamic that kept me hooked.


  • The Nature of Truth and Deception: “Malice” explores how truth can be manipulated and how appearances can be deceiving. The narrative structure, with shifting perspectives, reinforces the theme that reality is often a matter of perception.
  • Jealousy and Ambition: The novel delves into the destructive nature of jealousy and the dark side of human ambition. Higashino masterfully portrays how these emotions can drive individuals to extreme actions.
  • The Complexity of Human Relationships: The interplay between Hidaka and Nonoguchi provides a deep exploration of friendship, rivalry, and betrayal. The complexity of their relationship adds a rich layer to the mystery.

Narrative Style

Higashino uses a straightforward yet engaging narrative style that shifts between the perspectives of Nonoguchi and Detective Kaga. This dual perspective not only adds depth to the story but also cleverly manipulates the reader’s focus and sympathy. The clarity of the prose, even when discussing complex motives and alibis, made it a pleasure to read. Personally, I found the piecemeal revelation of key details particularly effective in building suspense and adding to the overall intrigue of the novel.

Conclusion: Reflecting on “Malice”

“Malice” by Keigo Higashino is a meticulously crafted novel that stands as a testament to his genius in the mystery genre. The book’s ability to blend intricate plotting with deep psychological insights makes it a standout. It compelled me to ponder the darker aspects of human nature and the consequences of unchecked emotions.

This novel is more than just a detective story; it’s a psychological thriller that challenges the reader to consider what lies beneath the surface of our everyday interactions. For anyone who enjoys a mystery that also serves as a study in character and motive, “Malice” is undoubtedly a must-read. Each page promises a new twist, ensuring that the journey to the resolution is as satisfying as the solution itself.

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