Tis is the season of Japanese Literature. I’ve been faithful to my first love despite my downright insane schedule, finding time to appreciate art in the written form. This post is dedicated to Keigo Higashino, and his thoroughly amazing ‘Journey Under the Midnight Sun’. The plot intricacy for his new book far surpasses his cult novel – ‘ The Devotion of Suspect X’. While Suspect X charmed its reader by unveiling the complexity of the Higashino mental process to excite the plot, Midnight Sun surpasses it.
So what’s so special and poignant about ‘Journey Under the Midnight Sun’? We see a lot of unwillingness from Detective Sasagaki in closing this particular unsolved case. Though unsolved puzzles do happen, this particular one has been gnawing on his heart for two decades, as if the dead were crying out for vengeance and the truth to be exposed. In this case, the victim himself was a shady individual, involved in a line of work that profited out of other’s helplessness. Yosuke Kirihara’s death was the first domino that set off the chain of unfortunate events. But what if his death meant one less child molester/pedophile lurking on this earth? And the killer was none other than a young boy wanting to protect a childhood friend from the throes of his Dad’s perversion? So Ryo Kirihara’s Journey under the Midnight Sun began at age 10. An innocent expression of loyalty to protect a friend had morphed into a life of duplicity, covering up his crime tracks as the domino pieces began to fall, living under the radar of the system.
Children are not that innocent or indifferent to their environment, something adults can forget. A clandestine affair, a suppressed perversion, a double life, trust a child’s intuition to sniff that out. The earlier a child is exposed to dysfunction or pain, the more prone he/she is to develop a coping mechanism to manoeuvre through life. Yukiho, the victim of child prostitution, had weaved out an intricate plan to rid herself of her mum and her fate of poverty. She willfully ignored her mum’s suicidal tenancies, and garnered enough sympathy through a carefully staged countenance to be eventually adopted by a wealthy relative, sympathetic to her plight as an orphan. There, her life took a turn. Yukiho got private education, was trained in the ways of Ikebana and Chado (flower arrangement and tea ceremony), skills of a quintessential Japanese wife, skills potential husbands would prize. Such a twist of fate would not have been possible without her quick thinking to pull herself out of that miry trash of an upbringing. So it became a reflex to shake off her shameful and shady beginnings, and her beautiful face served her well in portraying a facade of elegance and upper-class aura. However, the thorns in her eyes were unmistakable, as described by Kazunari, the president of the dance club Yukiho was part of. Yukiho had her fair share of fans, but Kazunari, the golden boy, had his eye on Eriko, Yukiho’s best friend. From here another complicated plot twist begins to unfold.