Cover Image: The Final Curtain

The Final Curtain

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Member Reviews

3.7 Stars 
One Liner: A good finale 

Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga collected his estranged mother’s remains a decade ago from a lady who had known her for years. Kaga’s mother left him and his father without much explanation. While Kaga got some answers, he is yet to get the rest. 
Now (2012) in Tokyo, the decomposed body of a middle-aged woman has been found in a bare apartment rented by a man. No one knows who the man is. Meanwhile, there has been another death in the vicinity at the same time and looks like the cases may be connected. 
Kaga wonders if both cases are somehow related to his mother’s life after she left the family to live elsewhere. Can he find the answers at last, or will he have to accept things the way they are? 
The story comes in multiple third-person POVs. This is the last book in the series. 

My Thoughts: 
This is the final book in the 4-book series, with Detective Kaga in the lead. He is an ex-school teacher turned police detective with a penchant for solving crimes and enough tenacity to keep going until he succeeds. 
Like book #3, this one also has Kaga’s cousin Matsumiya, a Homicide detective in another district’s team. I like the dynamics between the two. It borders on distant, but the warmth and companionship between the two is easy to feel. It also helps that both use their brains well. The police may grumble but spend hours of their time and resources in solving the crimes. I quite like this part. 
The book is set in 2012 and refers to the then-devastating earthquake and Tsunami and how it changed the lives of the people involved. The translated version is being released over a decade later, so there are bound to be some differences here and there. 
There’s a list of characters at the beginning, which is quite helpful. The names can be confusing, but that’s bound to happen when we read books from other cultures. No big deal. It’s easy to remember the characters even if we forget the names. They are distinct and have definite personalities, no matter how small their roles. 
The mystery is quite layered and has many twists. New information is revealed in stages, allowing the reader to connect the dots and come up with their own conclusions. Quite a lot happens, and though the case takes time, there’s no dull moment.
The pacing is a bit uneven. The book is 400 pages. While the translation is smooth enough, a few sentences sound odd since I don’t have the necessary cultural background. 
I’m in two minds about the ending. In a way, it suits the series (and Kaga) and ends exactly how it should. However, the HEA-lover in me is not satisfied. Why couldn’t we have a more definite conclusion to the series? Does it mean there’s a possibility of continuing the series someday? Because of how it ends, there won’t be any issues in writing another book or more. 

To summarize, The Final Curtain weaves multiple tracks together and brings them to a satisfying end. A well-crafted mystery that keeps you hooked. 
Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin’s (Minotaur Books), for the eARC. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book. 
TW: Depression, sexual assault, infidelity
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Past influences the now.

I’ve always enjoyed tales about Tokyo Detective Kyoichiro Kaga. This is no exception, although going backwards and forwards from the past to the present, alongside the variety of Japanese names to keep straight, made this a challenging, yet rewarding read.
The strangulation of a lonely woman in a basement apartment, and the death of a homeless man, all link somehow with the death of Kaga’s estranged mother.
Inexorably we follow the trail Kaga leads us down to the final curtain reveal.

A Minotaur ARC via NetGalley.                                              
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
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If you need lots of action, this isn't the book for you. If you like intellectual mysteries with a tight plot, methodical detectives who put pieces together using their instincts and cool reasoning, and unique storylines with unexpected twists, then you will enjoy this book as much as I did! The Final Curtain is easily read as a standalone, even though it is the 10th book in the intellectual Kyoichiro Kaga mystery series. The story starts in the past, showing us what happened to Kaga's mother after she up and left her husband and son decades earlier. Jumping to the present, Michiko Oshitan's body is found in a bare apartment in Tokyo, many miles from her home in Sendai. What was Michiko doing in Tokyo? And is her death connected to that of a homeless man, both of them strangled within days of one another in the same neighborhood? As the investigation proceeds, an unexpected connection is made to Kaga's mother, drawing the detective into the investigation. This is a well written (and translated) police procedural with interesting characters and insights into Japanese culture.
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Although this is the last book of the series it is the first for me. It is a good book full of interesting characters. The story keeps you guessing all the way through. Am looking forward to reading more by this author.
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I've read a number of Higashino's works and I think that this one, with all the twists and turns and neat connections may be the most readable for Western readers. It's not hard to see how everything fits together, but you can only figure it out until the next twist, of which there are many. It brings back a familiar cast of characters, yet it can also stand alone for readers who are just discovering Higashino.
It was engaging enough to keep me reading far into the night and to sigh with regret when I turned the last page. The different locations in Japan also added interest to the story.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. It's a keeper for sure!
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Book Review: The Final Curtain, Kyoichiro Kaga #10 by Keigo Higashino
Giles Murray (Translator)
Published by St. Martin's Press & Minotaur Books, December 12, 2023

★★★★★ (5.0 Stars!)

First written in 2013, "Inori no Maku ga Oriru Toki" (祈りの幕が下りる時) ) or "The Final Curtain" by Keigo Higashino (English version out in December, 2023) is, unfortunately for his fans, the final book in the Detective Kaga Kyōichirō series.


Nihonbashi, Chūō Ward, Central Tokyo
One mile east of the Imperial Palace as the crow flies
A stone's throw from Tokyo Station to the west, a Shinkansen "Bullet Train" stop
A mile north of Ginza
And a mile northeast of the Tokyo Metropolitan PD HQ

This is the stage of one Detective Kaga Kyoichiro, now stationed at the Nihonbashi Precinct away from his previous stint with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Homicide Division.

And the story begins....

// The Final Curtain, Kyoichiro Kaga #10 by Keigo Higashino //

In the finale, Mr. Higashino bares the soul, the very essence of Kyoichiro Kaga, his police procedural star protagonist.

He reveals the hero's dysfunctional upbringing, the identities of Kaga's parents (the names of whom he cleverly omits from the cast of characters in the front of the book), an abusive father, a mother who'd left home, a divorce, a long distance tragic relationship of sorts. The kendo master who becomes a Tokyo Metropolitan policeman.

It culminates, in the course of a homicide investigation, with Kaga's reunification with his mother, deceased, apparently destitute in the end, as he takes home her ashes and the remainder of her meager possessions.

The author intertwines all of this with the complex life story of an actress /playwright, the 10th Kaga novel's Aeschylus female protagonist, again the offspring of another dysfunctional union, raised in an orphanage, bullied in school, taken advantage of by a lecherous junior high school teacher, then blossoming into a star and now a director of stage plays at Tokyo's Meiji-za Kabuki Theatre, with her parents also playing key roles in the novel.

The Bridges of Nihonbashi.
In the über maelstrom of lives, the author drops a murder mystery or two, unidentified suspects with multiple identities, and historical perspectives of Tokyo, highlighted by an enigmatic list of twelve out of the twenty-four bridges that span the Nihonbashi river, the urban tributary that traverses Tokyo, a river which is largely covered overhead by the Shuto expressway.

The list of twelve bridges confounds all.

And Kaga has his work cut out for him...

// (Photo)

Photo: Japanese actor Abe Hirose as Detective Kyoichiro Kaga in the Japanese TBS production of the 2010 Television series "Shinzanmono" (新参者, "The Newcomer"), based on a novel by Keigo Higashino. //


Autho Keigo Higashino keeps it down to earth in his writing, a verisimilitude that many readers can identify with. Vicariously for those in the know, a taste of Japan for others. You could almost slurp the ramen, sip an Asahi Super Dry in the neighborhood izakaya. In the streets, alleys, and shotengai, the covered markets of Central Tokyo. Its denizens, the privileged, the working class, the marginalized. The nuisances, the colloquialisms, the daily grind of Japanese life. Without qualms, as he depicts both the good, and the hard truths and dregs frowned upon in society.

In toto, a good detective's legwork realm.

"The Final Curtain" is the last novel in the series. The good news for his readers is that there are six more Detective Kaga novels which have yet to be translated. Plus two of Detective Galileo, the author's other police procedural star protagonist.

From Tokyo to Sendai in northeastern Japan and down south to Kansai. A must-read for Keigo Higashino fans and fans-to-be!

Review based on an advanced reading copy courtesy of St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley.
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The Final Curtain by Keigo Higashino is a murder mystery that centers around the disappearance and death of Detective Kaga's mother and the recent murder of Michiko Oshitani in Tokyo. Read this if you like detective / mystery stories, police procedurals and stories set in Japan.  There were twists and turns as this case unfolded so definitely entertaining. Turns out this is book 4 in a series of 4 books (The Kyoichiro Kaga) series, but it can definitely be read as a stand alone. Overall, The Final Curtain is a good read.
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The Final Curtain by Kiego Higashino is the translated version of a Japanese murder mystery. The translator is Giles Murray but it definitely reads like a translation, which is not that much of a problem. I wonder if editing will clean it up. It is a police procedural that relies heavily on luck and DNA and fingerprints. It starts with the discovery of a decomposing body in a very austere apartment and the burning of a homeless man’s shelter with a body inside. At first they don’t appear to be related but as the investigation moves forward it twists and turns into a suicide reported thirty years previously. The characters are good and talented although many of them seemed to have lost their mothers at a young age, unrelated to the investigation, mostly. It was a compelling read, not so different from a murder in the United State. Well worth the read. 

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of The Final Curtain by St. Martin’s Press, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #StMartinsPress #KiegoHigashino #GilesMurray #TheFinalCurtain
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A twisty one that surprised me. Don't worry if you haven't read the earlier books in the series, you'll be fine with this as a standalone-all the backstory you need is provided (and for those who have read the books, there's additional insight into Kaga).  How are the strangulation murders of an unhoused man and a visitor to Tokyo connected?  That's the question the Tokyo detectives are trying to solve, none more so than Kaga, who sees another link- this one to his long dead mother.  Patient police work and interrogation leads the team to focus on Hiromi, who is at the center of several different arms of the case.  No spoilers from me but know that the answers Kaga seeks might not be what you or he expects.   Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  Excellent read- I'm hoping that more in the series will be translated soon.
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The Final Curtain by Keigo Higashino is a gripping murder mystery that centers around the disappearance and death of Detective Kaga's mother and the recent murder of Michiko Oshitani in Tokyo. As the police investigate Oshitani's murder, they discover a connection to the case of Detective Kaga's missing mother. Higashino weaves together a complex plot full of twists and turns that keep readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. The characters are well-crafted, and the pacing is slow yet action-packed, allowing for a deep exploration of the characters and their motivations. The writing is superb, with vivid descriptions that transport readers to the streets of Tokyo and add to the overall tension and atmosphere of the story.

Overall, The Final Curtain is a masterfully crafted police procedural that will keep readers guessing until the very end and is a must-read for fans of the genre.
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This is my first book written by author Higashino. I was invited to read an arc by the publisher via NetGalley and jumped at the chance after reading that Bookpage described Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga as 'a modern-day Poirot.' Although this is book #4 in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

The book begins ten years in the past when Detective Kaga goes to collect the ashes of his deceased mother, a woman who had deserted her family without any explanation when he was a young boy. Now, during the current investigation of two strangulation deaths, Kaga begins to believe there are ties to his mother's past.

Kaga is an 'intuitive' investigator who often proceeds on his hunches. The plot was quite twisty and intriguing; the conclusion, satisfying. I would enjoy reading more of Higashino's books, although I admit to finding the Japanese names quite daunting to keep track of.
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Really good story about a determined group of police detectives investigating a couple of murders. Set in Japan it has a large cast of characters, and at first it was a little hard keeping track of who was who. As you get further into the story it becomes easier as the main characters take center stage. I like how we get a little peek at Japanese culture. They’re so respectful of each other. Something we could emulate for sure. It was fascinating to read along as they worked out who the perpetrator was. Kaga is a brilliant detective. It’s a sad story about how the actions of others can have such a big impact on a person’s life. 4.25 stars
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Maybe it's just me but I think there are things lost in the translations. Everything was going well but then I got lost in the timeline confusing old murders with new murders. Overall I thought this was an okay mystery.
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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC: This is the last of a series, and I did not read any of the others. It's a well plotted police procedural that  explores the mystery of the protagonist's missing mother, through the murders of two people who are related via a third.  At times, with the many names of the characters, it was a bit hard to follow, but it Kaga makes an interesting central figure.
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This was another fun mystery book by Keigo Higashino! I would’ve never guessed all the plot twists!

Notable lines:

“Look, some actors I know can go through their whole lives without showing their real selves. They create a persona. Nobody will ever know what someone like that really looks like . . . you must never make the mistake of believing the face an actor presents to the world.”

“You never really get to understand the essence of a thing if you only look at it from one point of view. That’s true for people and it’s true for buildings too.”

“Worrying about your mother is the most natural thing in the world . . . “

“I suspect-and I don’t think I’m imagining things-that the act of leaving home actually helped alleviate the symptoms of her depression.”
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3.5 stars

In this fourth book in the 'Kyoichiro Kaga' series, the police detective helps his cousin investigate two murders. The novel works fine as a standalone.

Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga, who's stationed in the Nihonbashi Precinct of Tokyo, endured a traumatic incident as a child. When Kaga was twelve years old, his mother Yuriko left home, leaving Kaga and his father to fend for themselves. Kaga heard nothing more about his mother until she died sixteen years later, and Kaga was asked to collect her ashes. At that time, Kaga learned that - years after his mother left home - she developed a relationship with a man named Shunichi Watabe. It's now a decade after Yuriko died, and Kaga is drawn into two murder inquiries that may shed light on his mother's life.

The first case begins when a woman named Michiko Oshitani, who recruits clients for a cleaning contractor, is found strangled in a Tokyo apartment. Michiko lived far from Tokyo, but was visiting a former schoolmate in the city. Afterwards, Michiko was killed in the home of a man called Mutsuo Koshikawa, who seems to have disappeared.

A week later, an identified homeless man is found strangled and burned close to where Michiko was killed. The fact that both Michiko and the homeless man were strangled lead the Tokyo Metropolitan Police to believe the murders are connected. One of the Tokyo homicide detectives, Shuhei Matsumiya, is cousins with Detective Kaga, who's legendary for catching killers. So Matsumiya asks Kaga to help investigate the two homicides.

The police speculate that the homeless victim might be the missing Matsuo Koshikawa, in whose apartment Michiko was found. This is hard to prove, however, because Koshikawa left nothing behind that could identify him.

A prime suspect for Michiko's murder is the woman Michiko was visiting in Tokyo, a theater director called Hiromi Asai. Michiko and Hiromi went to junior high school together, but haven't seen each other in years. When the investigators interview Hiromi, the theater director says Michiko had something important to tell her, and that Michiko planned to return home right after they spoke. Hiromi says she knows nothing more about Michiko's activities in Tokyo.

The Tokyo homicide squad, along with Kaga, dissect Hiromi's life bit by bit. They discover that Hiromi's mother deserted the family when she was in junior high school, and her father's subsequent death landed Hiromi in an orphanage. Nevertheless, Hiromi's ambition and talent helped her become an actress, a writer, and a director.

In an effort to discover why Hiromi might have killed her old friend Michiko, the homicide detectives try to interview people who know (or knew) Hiromi well. These include Hiromi's junior high school homeroom teacher; Hiromi's ex-husband; the producer of Hiromi's smash hit play; an actress Hiromi worked with; and others.

In the meantime, a police sketch artist produces an image of the missing apartment resident Koshikawa, drawn from descriptions of his neighbors. Kaga uncovers evidence that leads him to think Koshikawa might also be known as Shunichi Watabe - the man with whom Kaga's mother had a romance before she died.

The dual murder investigations of Michiko and the homeless man get very complicated as various clues are uncovered. These include a calendar that lists twelve bridges in Nihonbashi Precinct, one for each month; train timetables; an extramarital affair; and a suicide.

As the story unfolds many secrets are revealed, and it's clear that not everything is as it seems. Kaga's detective skills cut through the chaff, however, and he uncovers the truth.

I enjoyed the police procedural plot and the glimpses of Japanese culture, such as the Nihonbashi bridge-washing ritual; sleeping on futons; kendo workshops; and more.

Thanks to Netgalley, Keigo Higashino, and St. Martin's Press for a copy of the book.
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3.5 Stars. Plot was from 4 to 5 Stars, but names made it difficult. I loved my visits to Japan, but this is my first mystery written and set in that country. The Final Curtain is a compelling mystery with many twists, turns, and surprising reveals. The storyline is complex and involves Tokyo detectives trying to untangle a complicated puzzle involving murder by strangulation. This police procedural focused on the difficulty of cases like this one and the hard work of dedicated and determined police officers. One of the detectives remarks that they must follow many dead-end paths with hopes that a glimmer of truth may lie at the end of one of them. The translation flowed smoothly.

 The story begins decades earlier. A woman, Yuriko, newly divorced, arrives in Sendai, leaving her 12-year-old son behind. She is helped by bar owner Yasuyo, who employs her as a bar hostess. Yuriko is popular with the bar customers but avoids any personal entanglements. After ten years, she developed a relationship with bar patron Watabe and seemed happy and content. Watabe travelled for his work and was absent for two years. During this time, Yuriko becomes too ill to continue her work and, ignores Yasuyo's orders to seek medical treatment and finds her dead in her humble apartment. She manages to contact Watabe about Yuriko's death and funeral. He seems remote, unemotional, and uninvolved. Some time later, he contacts Yasuyo to tell her he has tracked down the deceased woman's son. He is a new Tokyo policeman, Kaga. He will come to Sendai to collect his mother's ashes and meagre belongings. Watabe says he will never be in communication again. 

Shifting to the present time, the Tokyo police are investigating two deaths from strangulation. The head of the case is Matsumiya, who is Kaga's cousin. Kaga is willing to give his impressions and consult on the case. The two deaths under investigation don't seem to have anything in common. A woman, Michiko Oshitani, is dead far from home in an apartment belonging to another person. A homeless man, Mutsuo Koshikawa, burned to death in a tent after being strangled. 

 A famous theatre actress and director becomes a person of interest in Matsumiya's investigation. It is believed she knew both murdered characters. She holds many secrets from her past. Two clues have been found. Kaga retrieved a list of twelve bridges found in his mother's belongings. They are in someone else's handwriting and mention a local bridge for each day of the month. A similar list was found on a calendar thought to belong to the homeless man who died. A second clue was a well-thumbed train timetable that ended at the destination of a distant nuclear power plant. 

 The list of characters now expands. I found the names complicated and challenging to follow. Some names were similar or referred to an individual by their first or last name, a stage name, an assumed name, or an alias. One character had three separate identities. There is a list of names with their roles at the beginning of the book. Since I was reading the ebook, this would be more useful in published hard copy versions. I made notes but still struggled to keep the characters straight and avoid confusion. I should have given the storyline at least 4 points but lowered it because of my distraction with the names. 

 I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this solid, complex police procedural that was well-translated. I was pleased to be introduced to a Japanese crime story. It is due to be published on December 12. I intend to read more of Higashino's mysteries.
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What a gift to have Keigo Higashino's books available in English.  Their settings and sensibilities are deeply Japanese.  The cultural sense of honor is central to "The Final Curtain."   As this multiple murder mystery unfolds, so does Kyoichiro Kaga's personal history.  We know his mother left him and his father when he was small, but why she left has been a unfilled hole in his life.  Finally, as he begins to investigate a case in the Nihonbashi Precinct and another in Tokyo the threads begin to pull together in a richly woven story of family love, loyalty and betrayal.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I don't think this book was the right kind of story for me. Not to say that it was bad or anything, It just didn't fit my tastes for a detective story. It is very straightforward and methodical in following the clues, but I would have liked a bit more atmosphere, description of the setting, and emotions of the characters. I'm not adding a rating that reflects on the actual book, since I only made it halfway through the book, but I think if you're looking for a true detective style mystery this might be for you.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review. The rating added is solely due to the requirement on Netgalley.
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I have read several books by this author previously, including another in the Detective Kaga series, and really enjoyed the pacing of the stories. These mysteries tend to be quiet and contemplative, even when dealing with murder. This one was no exception; I found it to be another well-crafted, complex mystery. 

This is the fourth book in the series to have been translated into English but is the tenth book in the series in the original Japanese. I have found it easy to read the English translations out of order, as they read well as stand-alone novels. I hope that more are planned because I've found Kaga to be an interesting character and that the crimes he investigates to be incredibly engaging from start to finish. Some of the elements associated with the primary case in this book are unsavory, so this is a little gritty in spots. 

In this installment, the reader learns more about Detective Kaga's background and how the disappearance of his mother many years ago has shaped the man he is today. As the story unfolds, there appears to be ties between the modern day murder being investigated and Kaga. Though he is not the lead detective officially, he is key to solving the crime and shaping the trajectory of the investigation. Clues are revealed meticulously and a careful, deliberate read is a must. The pacing was pitch-perfect and held my attention from the first page to the last. 

Many thanks to Minotaur for a chance to read this NetGalley edition before its U.S. December 2023 publication date.
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