Ever so slowly, Keigo Higoshino leads us precisely through the murder investigation which begins with a man named Takeaki Aoyagi stumbling down the sidewalk as though drunk, and then dying at the foot of a kirin statue on the Nihonbashi Bridge.
When a young man in possession of Aoyagi’s wallet is struck by a car as he’s running away, it is assumed he was the killer. After all, he had called his girlfriend before he was struck to leave this message:
“I’ve done something awful…Something terrible’s happened. I don’t know what to do.” Those were his exact words…He sounded hysterical.p. 176
But, that would’ve been too simple.
Instead we learn that these two have the same workplace, Kanaseki Metals, and that terrible accidents have been covered up. Is this the cause for murder? One major headline in the news reads:
Did Aoyagi order the cover-up of workplace accidents? Factory manager reveals all.p. 137
But then, why are hundreds of folded origami cranes left at shrines, most particularly the Suitengu Shrine which is where people pray for the safety of babies as well as protection from drowning…?
We have reason to believe that Mr. Aoyagi was a regular visitor to Suitengu Shrine. Offering up origami cranes one hundred at a time. Does that ring any bells…p. 300
The pieces of the puzzle seem obscure, and unrelated, but Detectives Kyoichiro Kaga and his cousin Shuhei Matsumiya are brilliant sleuths, able to find the cause and resolution of a most heartbreaking death.
This was a fascinating thriller, pleasing in more ways than having an interesting plot. Like all of my favorite novels, there is much deeper meaning, and application, to the lives of the father, Aoyagi, and his family than a typical American mystery provides. It proves once again why Kiego Higoshino is my favorite Japanese crime writer.