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The Final Curtain

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Japanese mystery novel. This was good. Lots of unexpected turns in the story. I would read other books by this author.

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Wow! What a terrific story. This is a slower paced thriller that has readers trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together. Higashino has a writing style which instantly grabs your attention and never lets go. He does an excellent job of revealing the backstory behind the mystery being investigated by Detective Kyoichiro Kaga and other police agencies. I love his intricately woven mystery plot with multiple victims and suspects, interspersed with well defined characters. My thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Originally published in Japan in 2013, the English translation of The Final Curtain is now available. This is the fourth in the Detective Kaga series and while I'm new to the saga, this didn't prevent my enjoyment as this stands on its own. One can jump right in and follow along.

The writing style is direct, factual, not a lot of fluff. We get to know the characters (there's a handy character guide in the first pages) through their actions and try to piece together the complicated mystery along with Kaga. His mother, who disappeared when he was young, is somehow related to a murder Kaga's tangentially investigating.

In a slow burn, the puzzle pieces come together elegantly in the novel's satisfying conclusion. Kudos to a book that makes you want to go back and read the earlier books in the series.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books for the ARC.

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This was a new to me author, and I would definitely be looking for more of his works. Although at times, it seem like the story did not run smoothly, but that could’ve been because of the translation and I know we use words different than they do. This is supposed to be the last book of this series but the way it ended kind of makes me think maybe it’s not, I could be wrong. I would recommend this to anybody who enjoys reading mystery and suspense.


I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This is my honest and voluntary review

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THE FINAL CURTAIN: A Mystery
(The Kyoichiro Kaga Series, Book 4)
Minotaur
400 pp.
$29.00

Don’t worry, it will all become clear.

The reader of Japanese police procedurals, even excellent ones like the one under consideration, encounters a significant problem—names. Besides a lot of bowing and countless cups of tea, an onslaught of syllables assaults the reader when there are a number of crimes and multiple aliases for the criminal, thus increasing the officer count.
Never fear, however; the author has provided a cast of characters, and ultimately focuses in on the lead detective in this book, and series—Kyoichiro Kaga. Allow the other names to flow by, and focus on him.

He is the anchor in any good detective story, the unorthodox mind that sees links, makes connections that others don’t. In this case, Kaga had retrieved his mother’s ashes from a province far from Tokyo ten years prior to the present of the book. It was unusual, and unexpected—she had deserted the family when he was a child. Now, in the present, he is called in to consult on a murder in Tokyo. A woman from a distant town is found dead in a nondescript apartment, whose renter had disappeared. At the same time nearby, a homeless man is found burned to death in a roadside tent.

Kaga sees they are all connected.

The ensuing narrative entails a lot of investigation that covers a lot of ground, but keeps the reader engaged. Nothing comes together until deep in the book when the author carefully reveals the details that all the clues have shed light upon, in the voices of the perpetrators. He does so in such a way, however, that doesn’t give the mystery away, but only makes it clearer. It is masterful writing that keeps us in suspense until THE FINAL CURTAIN. Although this is the fourth book in a series, it still stands up as a stand-alone. Brew yourself a cup of green tea, and settle back to be entertained.

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Higashino's books beyond doubt have their turns and twists so I have always enjoyed his books. The series of Detective Kaga is the one that I am most dear.

The Final Curtain is the finale of the Detective Kaga series. This book will unfold the reason why Kaga was transferred to Nihonbashi. In the previous book, Kaga and his father's relationship was unraveled. As for this book, it will reveal Kaga's past as well as his relationship with his mum while he's solving two connected murder cases. It is slow-paced yet SO CAPTIVATING.

Last but not least, the ending left me with mixed feelings.

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This is my first book by this author. I read about 50% of this book and I just couldn’t go on anymore. The author writes beautifully and it’s an interesting story but it’s just a very slow going pace. For right now I’m putting it aside and I will return to it at a later date to try to finish the book. Now just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work for you. Definitely give this author a chance his writing is very well done

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I had no idea this was part of a series. There were so many triggering things in this book. How is killing a homeless man ok and then to further defile his body? I am not ok with that even in a fiction book. Plus I could not really empathize with an of the characters.

I am obviously not the readership for a book like this. Cannot recommend.

Thank to Netgalley, Keigo Higashino and St MArtins Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Already available

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The Final Curtain by Keigo Higashino is another strong entry in the Detective Kaga series. As with Higashino's other books, the mystery unfolds in layers, with a satisfying resolution. The novel provides a satisfying conclusion to the series.

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Thank You to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review!

I really love how Kiego Higashino's Detective Kaga series are always filled with twists and turns; multiple identities, hiding from the limelight or putting yourself directly in it to avoid suspicion, and how tirelessly the police search every crevice for clues is admirable. I've really enjoyed my time with Kaga and can't wait to explore more of Kiego Higashino's works!

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This is the fourth book in the Detective Kaga series, written by one of Japan's most acclaimed mystery authors, translated into English but the 10th book overall. Two strangulations deaths in Tokyo in relatively close proximity may be related. When Detective Kaga is consulted he discovers that is related to his own estranged mother's death 10 years before. Will Kaga be able to solve this difficult case that has profound personal implications?

This has plenty of twists and turns and good characters. It was written for a Japanese audience and is authentic for that culture. This isn't a story that just has geographical and cultural trappings for a Western audience. However, that doesn't mean the reader cannot understand what is going on. If you don't take a chance on this author you are missing out on a quality writer and a good mystery.

Thanks to Netgalley and publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

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This is my second book by this author. I previously read the first book in the series. I need to go back and read the books in between . Reading a book in translation from the Japanese has its own kind of charm. The names of the characters are a challenge of course but I suggest making a list by using just the first three or four letters to help you keep track.
To me the best part about the books are the detailed plots. The plots are very intricate and just when you think you know where it’s headed, it makes another turn. Also I love the little insights into life in Japan.
This installment has Detective Kaga recovering the ashes of his recently deceased mother whom he hasn’t seen since she walked out on the family many years ago. Running parallel is the mystery of a murdered woman in Tokyo with no obvious clues about the motive and another murder of a homeless man in a quasi shelter. Could they be connected somehow? But what could a school teacher who lives hours away have in common with a homeless man?
Kaga gets involved when his cousin, Matsumiya, is bouncing ideas off him during a regularly scheduled lunch. Soon Kaga, Matsumiya, and members of the team are shifting thru clues trying to make some far fetched connections make sense.
I really enjoyed the clean writing of this police procedural and look forward to reading the other books in the series. I guarantee you won’t be able to figure out the ending.

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3.25

What a fun, twisty police procedural. This is the finale of the Detective Kaga series and the fourth translated book into English, though I don’t think it’s necessary to read anything before this. Kaga deals with two interconnected cases, a woman strangled in someone else’s apartment and a homeless man killed and burned in his tent, and somehow these cases also tie into the disappearance and death of Kaga’s mother many years previous.

I liked the way the cases all overlapped and the way the mystery unfurled throughout the book. The pacing made it hard to put the book down! I did find it sort of confusing to keep track of who was who, but I think that’s mostly due to being unfamiliar with Japanese. Overall I liked this quite a bit, though I think I prefer the Detective Galileo books.

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Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace:The pace of The Final Curtain was slow-paced.

POV: The Final Curtain is told from a 3rd person point of view. It is told from Kyoichiro Kaga, Shuhei Matsumiya, and Hiromi Kadokura (aka Hiromi Asai)’s POV.

Series: The Final Curtain is the 10th book in the Kyoichrio Kaga series. You can read this book as a standalone.

Trigger/Content Warning: The Final Curtain has trigger and content warnings. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:

Murder
Sexual Assault
Abandonment
Statutory Rape
Foster Care
Adult-minor relationship (a teacher has a years-long affair with a student, who is one of the main characters)
Depression
Abortion
Dead Bodies
Death of a parent
Grief & Loss Depiction
Strangulation
Sexual Content: There is sexual content in The Final Curtain.

Language: The Final Curtain has mild swearing in it. There is no offensive language.

Setting: The Final Curtain is set in and around Tokyo, Japan.

Age Range: I recommend The Final Curtain to anyone over 21.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Called to help with the investigation of a strangulation case, Kaga is surprised to discover the victim is an old schoolmate of his. While he is investigating that murder, another murder happens, and he is surprised to find the two are connected. But there are few clues, and the one person who could have answers is not talking. It is up to Kaga to wade through decades of lies and misdirections to find out the answer. And in doing so, Kaga might finally get an explanation about the death of the mother who abandoned him decades earlier.

Main Characters

Instead of listing the main characters and giving my opinion, I will share my overall view of them. The Final Curtain didn’t have a set main character. The book flowed from one character to another. If I had to pick out three characters that stood out the most, they would be:

Kyoichiro Kaga
Shuhei Matsumiya
Hiromi Kadokura (Hiromi Asai)
These characters (well, all of the characters) were well-written and multi-faceted. I was surprised by this, seeing that this is the final book in this series and the first time I have read any book by this author. It was a pleasant surprise and added to my enjoyment of the book.

My review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading The Final Curtain. I was a little iffy about it because it was book 10 in the series, and I figured I would have difficulty getting into it. Not in this case. My only complaint was that it was slow in spots. But, in my eyes, that slowness added to the overall ambiance of the book. It also allowed the author to build up the storyline and tie everything together without looking rushed.

The author did something clever at the beginning of the book. He added a cast of characters. I was thrilled that he did that. I usually go through my Kindle to find names while writing my review. I didn’t have to do that in this book.

The main storyline in The Final Curtain is centered around the murder investigation of Michiko Oshitani and the homeless man. The storyline was well-written and well-fleshed out. A few red herrings were thrown out that had me thinking that Kaga would never solve the mystery (the bridges angle was fascinating). The twist at the end and how the author tied everything together were well done. I was left shaking my head at who the killer was and why that person did what they did.

The end of The Final Curtain was a little bittersweet. I liked how the author brought everything together and wrapped up the storylines. I also liked that there was a finality to the storylines. Seeing that this is the end of the storyline, the author ends the book in a way that clarifies that there will be no more after.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, Keigo Higashino, and Giles Murray for allowing me to read and review this ARC of The Final Curtain. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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Published in Japan in 2014; published in translation by ‎ Minotaur Books on December 12, 2023

In The Final Curtain, the play’s the thing. The play in question, The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, was first performed in Japan in 1703. Saying that it holds the key to the mystery probably won’t spoil anything for American readers, although it might provide a clue to readers who are more familiar than I am with the history of Japanese theater. In any event, the mystery extends well beyond the play.

Keigo Higashino is the current master of Japanese mystery novels. His plots are intricate but credible. Embedded in the plot of The Final Curtain are troubled relationships between a father and daughter and between a mother and son. As is often the case, the affected children are too young to understand the difficult lives of their parents.

The novel begins with the story of Yuriko Tajima, a woman who finds a job in a small-town bar and stays there for years. She confides to the bar’s owner that she failed as a wife and mother. Perhaps she has found her niche as a waitress/hostess.

Yuriko befriends a customer named Shunichi Watabe. The nature of their relationship is a bit of a mystery to the bar’s owner. When Yuriko is found dead in her apartment, the authorities decide she had a heart attack. Her employer takes possession of her ashes. Watabe gives the bar owner the information she needs to track down Yuriko’s son, to whom the ashes rightly belong. Her son turns out to be Kyoichiro Kaga, the police detective who stars in a series of novels. The Final Curtain is the most recent, both in the original series and in translation.

Kaga isn’t much interested in the mother who walked out on him, but he is dutiful and so agrees to pick up the ashes. When he goes through his mother’s possessions, he finds a note that lists twelve Tokyo bridges, each written next to a month of the year. He doesn’t think much about it. Life moves on.

About ten years later, a woman’s body is found in a Tokyo apartment. Michiko Oshitani was strangled to death. Neither the cleaning company that employed her nor her parents know why she came to Tokyo. The apartment’s tenant, Matsuo Koshikawa, has gone missing.

Detective Shuhei Matsumiya is tasked with investigating the murder. He wonders if the murder is linked to the murder of a man who died by strangulation before his body was set on fire. The murders took place a few kilometers apart but within days of each other.

Michiko managed client relations for her employer. Matsumiya decides to interview all the businesses where Michiko had recent contacts before she traveled to Tokyo. At a retirement home, Matsumiya learns that Michiko believed she recognized an older resident as the mother of Hiromi Asai. The woman insisted that Michiko was wrong, but Hiromi lives in Tokyo, which might have given Michiko a reason to travel there.

Hiromi Asai seems to have had a tragic life. Her mother, Atsuko, felt deceived by the matchmaker who set her up with Tadao Asai. Atsuko remedied the bad marriage by walking away from her family while Hiromi was still in junior high school. As Matsumiya follows the trail of clues, he learns that Tadao jumped from a tall building, leaving Hiromi to be raised in an orphanage. Yet Hiromi Asai went on to become Hiromi Kadokura, an actress and a successful theater director in Tokyo.

When Matsumiya relates all of this to Kaga, who happens to be his cousin, he mentions a calendar on the wall of Koshikawa’s apartment. On each month, someone had written the same of a bridge. Kaga realizes the bridges and months match the note he found in his mother’s possessions.

From those roots, the mystery blossoms. It is a story of assumed identities, missing persons, and a dubious relationship between a teacher and student. Kaga is forced to confront and reconsider unpleasant memories of his childhood as he learns the truth about Michiko’s decision to leave her husband.

Kaga methodically assembles clues as he pieces together the relationship between the two strangulation victims and his mother’s possession of a list of bridges. As is customary in Japanese mysteries, the eventual solution to each puzzle makes sense. And unlike too many American crime novels, Higashino’s plot does not depend on an abundance of unlikely coincidences.

Kaga’s troubled childhood has been a collateral issue in earlier novels. This one brings the issue into focus while helping Kaga come to terms with it. Higashino always makes the drama of human existence important to the story without allowing it to overshadow the mystery. Crime novel fans who prefer the purity of a murder mystery to mindless action and shootouts might want to fill their shelves with Higashino’s novels.

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Ten years ago, Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga was unexpectedly summoned to Sendai with news of his mother Yuriko’s death. She had run away from home years earlier, obscuring her tracks so well that not even his police detective father could track her down. Yuriko had found work in a bar in Sendai, and seemed to lead a quiet life right up until her death. Her boss had done her best to locate Yuriko’s living relatives, and finally managed to send Kaga a message to come retrieve his mother’s ashes.

Fast forward to the present. Kaga’s cousin Shuhei Matsumiya is now also a detective with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, though Kaga himself has transferred to the relatively quiet Nihonbashi Precinct. Matsumiya has just caught the homicide of Michiko Oshitani, a bubbly sales representative from Shiga who had come to Tokyo on a visit. Her strangled corpse has been found in the strangely empty apartment of Matsuyo Koshikawa, who is himself nowhere to be found.

Matsumiya’s investigation leads him to a theater director named Hiromi Kadokura. She and Michiko had known one another as teenagers, till scandal clouded Hiromi’s adolescence. Hiromi had been forced to withdraw from school as dangerous men hounded her and her father Tadao:

QUOTE
Knowing that she was in danger, Hiromi took off at full speed. The men in the car didn’t come after her, but the terror she felt was a pure physical sensation.

Safely back at home, she told Tadao what had happened. A gloomy expression on his face, he sank into silent thought for a long time. Hiromi guessed that he was trying to think of a way out of their difficulties, a way for them to survive.

Her guess was incorrect. Not much later, she discovered what she saw in her father’s eyes was a yearning for death.
END QUOTE

Hiromi survived her troubled childhood and worked hard to become a well-respected figure in Tokyo’s thriving theater scene. Michiko had come to see her on the day of her latest play’s premiere, stopping by the theater before subsequently disappearing. Hiromi readily admits that she’d had a conversation with Michiko about the past but is adamant that she knows nothing about what happened to the other woman afterwards. Matsumiya is inclined to believe her but Kaga, who has met her previously, is not.

As Kaga becomes further enmeshed in the investigation, the cousins make the surprising discovery that this case might very well have ties to Yuriko’s disappearance all those years ago. Matsumiya also suspects that another death five kilometers away is somehow connected to Michiko’s murder. What manner of tragedies and truths will the two detectives uncover as they strive to solve these cases and bring a killer to justice?

This novel is a gut punch of a police procedural, as the complicated emotional entanglements that eventually lead to the taking of lives, innocent or otherwise, are laid bare in its pages. Kyoichiro and Matsumiya make a great team as they explore, separately or together, the secret histories of both their suspects and the influential figures of their own pasts. Keigo Higashino expertly ties together such disparate elements as the world of theater, parental abandonment and nuclear waste disposal – all filtered through a distinctly Japanese yet universally relatable filter – in this final installment of his Kyoichiro Kaga series.

While searching for a potential suspect, for example, Matsumiya delves into the reality of what it takes to keep Japan’s nuclear power stations running, as he interviews one of his suspect’s former colleagues. The colleague tells him:

QUOTE
“Hope he’s hale and hearty–but I doubt he is.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because we’re the dregs.”

“The dregs?”

“Fuel ain’t the only thing nuclear power stations need. Those places, they eat up uranium, but they also eat up people. That’s how they keep going. Oh yeah, they need their human sacrifices. We manual laborers, we have the life sucked out of us. You can see it. Just look at me. I’m scrap, scum, leftovers.”
END QUOTE

Both intelligent and wise, The Final Curtain is a fitting cap to the acclaimed Kyoichiro Kaga series, even though I’m one of those greedy readers who wishes for many more of these books. Translated from the original Japanese by Giles Murray, the conversations occasionally veer exceedingly British but overall capture well the essence of melancholy that permeates this meaty tale of family estrangement and the lengths some people will go to in order to find a lasting peace.

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My thanks to NetGalley and St.martins press for the eARC.

I, unfortunately didn’t read the first three novels, and will be going back to read them. Without having the backstory, I still throughly enjoyed this book. The writing was done so well, the story was very detailed and thought out and gave the back story of the main character that defines them even more. There are some slower parts, but when the plot thickens, the twists keep coming and makes the wait worth it.

If you like Japanese detective novels, this series is for you!

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Tired of feeling bored with thrillers billed as mysteries where the mysteries are no challenge to your armchair detective skills? Want to read a true police procedural where every detail of the plodding police work is laid out? Get a copy of The Final Curtain, the last book of the Japanese Detective Kaga series, a fascinating look into the grind of police work and a real challenge to solve!

Women are leaving their homes, husbands, and children abruptly. Then, they turn up dead years later. Could this be a serial killer’s work or is it just a coincidence? This book recounts each of the woman’s stories as discovered by a pair of Japanese policemen. One of those policemen has an uncle famous for his detecting skills, Detective Kaga. When Kaga begins to help solve the crimes, he discovers a startling similarity to his own family history. Could his own mother be part of the killing spree?

Unlike most American mysteries, the pacing here is leisurely. You really feel how the police feel when investigating, which is 60% boredom. Despite that, The Final Curtain is a very compelling read. It is a true challenge to solve the mystery. Beginning with the last half of the book, several twists keep the plot interesting. The denouement is well worth the wait. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars! Highly recommended to readers looking for a complicated puzzle to solve.

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a digital review copy of the book.

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Very interesting book and really liked it because how did japan's Solves murder mysteries. It starts out with. The mother leaving the father behind. Her child. She goes to the resort area and gets a job in the bar working as a waitress. The bartender was really good to her and helped her get an apartment. She meets this man who was very good to her. But he had a very shady past. And in this town a girl named A s h I l l a was growing up and her family had a lot of problems. My best friend was a Named
M a t s u n was a nurse taking care of people. Her friend had to leave the town because Her father was in a gambling debt and the mother could not stand it so she left.. The story had a lot of different terms and it really would find out. How involved all this wasn't getting in Tokyo? The girl had to leave town with her father and things. Just didn't across well, but the premises was the father committed suicide. So this was based on the book. This girl was sent to a orphanage and her teacher would visit her there, but he was madly in love with her and would not leave his wife. So she became a playwriter in town. And this is where the detective was talking to her. She based the play on Her life. And this is really interesting how the clues all started to piece together. Her friend was murdered when she came to Tokyo to visit her and a homeless man was found. Burned to death so all this was somehow connected. The detective also went back to that town to pick up his mother's ashes when she died. This author was really interesting how he pieced everything together. But you didn't realize how things really ended in this book.. Touched a lot of different issues in this book as well. And it was very cleverly written

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My thanks to St. Martin’s Press Minotaur Books for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Final Curtain’ by Keigo Higashino.

This is Book 4 in his Detective Kyoichiro Kaga series of police procedurals. It was originally published in Japan as ‘Inori no Maku ga Oriru Toki’ (‘The Crimes That Bind’) in 2013 and was translated from the Japanese by Giles Murray.

Last winter I read the third book in this series, ‘A Death in Tokyo’ and was delighted to read this. A few plot details:

There is backstory here that involves Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga’ relationship with his deceased mother, who had left him and his father many years before. A decade ago he had collected her ashes though it left him with many unanswered questions about her life.

In the present day there have been two murder cases in Tokyo, which are being investigated by Homicide Detective Matsumiya, who is Kaga’s cousin. As he and his team search through the clues, Matsumiya reaches out to Kaga for advice. It increasingly appears that the cases are linked and then an unexpected connection appears between the murders and the long-ago case of Detective Kaga's missing mother. No further details to avoid spoilers.

There’s no doubt that Keigo Higashino is a master of the Japanese crime thriller and in ‘The Final Curtain’, the last in his Detective Kyoichiro Kaga series, he has crafted a complex and twisty murder mystery/police procedural that also brings Detective Kaga’s story to a satisfying conclusion.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

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