First published in Japanese in 2005, this cunning cat-and-mouse mystery continues the adventures of physics professor and part-time detective Manabu Yukawa, also known as Detective Galileo by the local police. Ex-hostess and working mom Yasuko Hanaoka just wants to be left alone to quietly raise her daughter Misato but that simple wish came crashing down with the reappearance of her looser ex-husband. The bully demanded money and threatened Yasuko’s daughter if it wasn’t forthcoming. In an act of self-preservation, Yasuko murders her ex but the ruckus draws the attention of next-door neighbor and mathematician Tetsuya Ishigami.Tetsuya assures the mother and daughter that everything will be fine, he will take care of everything, all they have to do is behave as if nothing had happened and they will get away with it. The police suspect the shaky alibis although there is no evidence directly connecting the two women with the murder so they call on Galileo’s expertise. As it so happens, Galileo is familiar with Tetsuya through the university they attended and what ensues is a delightful chess game between the two equally matched opponents that offers up a wealth of surprises and a heartfelt conclusion.
This excellent story has successfully made the transition from Japanese to English and will certainly inspire readers to search out more work by Higashino. Yasuko and Misato’s discovery that everything comes with a price makes for an interesting lesson. Although the conversation tends to drag the action around the middle of the book, it does flesh out the characters and contributes to the haunting climax of this intelligent thriller.