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THE FINAL CURTAIN by Keigo Higashino: Book Review

The Final Curtain is the last mystery featuring Tokyo police detective Kyoichiro Kaga.  Thus, it’s totally appropriate that this novel gives the reader the definitive look into Kaga’s somewhat mysterious past and how it intersects with the present-day investigations of a series of seemingly unconnected deaths.

Yasuyo Miyamoto is the owner of Seven, a restaurant and bar in the city of Sendai.  She’s approached by a woman in need of a job who has left her husband and child and now has to support herself.  Yasuyo offers this woman, Yuriko Tajima, a position, and it proves to be an excellent decision, as Yuriko is definitely an asset to Seven.

There is something mysterious about the new hire, but Yasuyo believes that whatever it is, it’s up to Yuriko to share it when she’s ready.  That time, however, never comes, although Yuriko does confide to Yasuyo that she is in a relationship with one of the bar’s patrons, Shunichi Watabe.

The years go by, and eventually Yuriko becomes ill and quits working at the bar.  Concerned about her, Yasuyo decides to visit her apartment but gets no response from calling her on the building’s intercom.  Yasuyo prevails upon the landlord to open the apartment door and finds her friend’s body on the floor; it’s obvious that Yuriko has been dead for some time.

Watabe refuses to either pick up Yuriko’s ashes or arrange for a funeral service, and the sad tasks fall on Yasuyo.  However, Watabe does reveal one vital piece of information.  Yuriko was the mother of Kyoichiro Kaga.  When Yasuyo tracks down Kaga and informs him of his mother’s death, he agrees to take his mother’s ashes and tells Yasuyo the story of his mother’s abandonment of himself and his father.  She left when Kaga was a teenager and never contacted them again.

Ten years pass before we meet Kaga again.  He is now a detective in the Tokyo Police Department, and through his cousin, also a detective, he becomes involved in one murder case and then a second, with only the fact that both victims were strangled tying the two cases together.  When Kaga begins his investigation he finds that strands of the case appear to go back to his childhood and involve another disappearance, this time a father and his daughter.

Kyoichiro Kaga is an insightful detective, and he is able to weave the strands together and solve three mysteries that have their beginnings in the past but their solutions in the present.  Following his career path through the previous novels gives the reader an excellent look into Japan’s culture and people, and The Final Curtain is a fitting finale to this outstanding series.

You can read more about Keigo Higashino at various sites on the web.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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