Cover Image: The Final Curtain

The Final Curtain

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Member Reviews

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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The Final Curtain by Keigo Higashino is a Japanese police procedural thriller. Continuing on with Detective Kaga, this 10th novel in the series tackles a case that is decades in the making. Can Kaga and his cousin unravel the case and put all the pieces together before the victim count rises?

I didn’t love this book, but think many will. It was too predictable for me and I’m starting to realize I’m just not a big procedural fan. The trope in this sub-genre seems to place the detectives as connected to the case and I just find that boring. However, if you love a police procedural thriller, I do think you would enjoy this new novel that comes out in December. I did REALLY enjoy getting to learn more about Japanese culture and society through the lens of The Final Curtain.

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Many thanks for the ARC! Once again Keigo Higashino delivers a solid read. The way this mystery came together was one of his more unpredictable ones, and I couldn’t figure out the mystery until it was revealed at the end. Although I enjoyed all of his books, this was one of the ones I liked more.

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The Final Curtain is the tenth book in a Japanese detective series but the fourth one that has been translated into English. I don’t think you need to read the other books in the series to enjoy this one. I did not read any of the others and I still enjoyed it and don’t think it took away from my experience.

The body of a woman is discovered in an abandoned apartment. When another body turns up, a whole web of lies is uncovered spanning decades and it all seems to be connected to a famous actress and director. The police department has to investigate and find the killer.

I really enjoyed this book! I think it was an interesting detective book. It was a police procedural book and it kept me engaged (I feel like I get bored from those a lot). The story had a lot of twists and turns and it unfolded at a good pace. I liked all of the characters as well, some parts were very emotional and this book touched on a lot of stuff.

My only complaint is that some of the twists seemed a bit far fetched. Some parts of the story just didn’t seem realistic. However, I still liked it and would reccomend to people! Thanks so much to netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the arc of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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I have been a fan of Higashino's work since I read the first one available in English translation. If this series had to end, it ended in style, going out on a high note. Higashino's writing is always right to the point, and while I appreciate gorgeous descriptive prose in literature, in a mystery such as The Final Curtain, straightforward prose is perfect for telling a mystery story filled with twists and turns. I navigated many of those twists well, but in the end I did not tie up all the loose ends on my own. Despite his prose style, Higashino has developed his ongoing characters well and has done equally well with those who appear in only one story. If I had to find fault it would be only that parts of this story stretch the American reader's imagination, for characters make choices that do not always comport with our culture. From the little I understand about Japanese culture, however, those choices make good sense. It's hard to imagine that many readers will not devour The Final Curtain and want to look for more books by this talented author.

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Higashino manages to take the seemingly unrelated events mentioned in the book blurb and tie them all together, tying a bow on the Detective Kaga series. I've read Higashino's other two English releases, but it was years ago. I had no issues with jumping in to this universe again with this book. I appreciate how Higashino fleshes out his characters as human beings beyond what would be in detectives' notes. I was very satisfied with how it all wrapped up. While this book did have some DNA testing (outside of Kaga's usual very human detective work), it was not a central plot device. My only annoyances may be due to the unfinished nature of ARCs like having to describe a dorayaki instead of just calling it by name or using explanatory commas. In terms of content warning, there is a mention of suicide and coercive child prostitution at some point in the book.

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Kaga is back and this time he has a personal connection to the mystery. Not my favorite Higashino. I felt like it took too long to get going.

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Kudos to Detective Kaga again!!
Another wonderful read from Keigo Higashino. While you do not need to read the previous three novels in the Kyoichiro Kaga series in order to appreciate this one, it certainly helps to have some history and background on the detective and the locales. This is a prime example how complicated crimes are solved; through methodical, sometimes mind numbing procedures and tons of tire kickings. No details are too small or insignificant for the detective. If there is an unsolved crime I would want Detective Kaga working the case.

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My thanks to Net Galley, St Martin's, and Minotaur for this excellent arc.

Two strangulation deaths occur. One, in an apartment building who was the mother of a police officer that abandoned him and his father years ago,and a homeless man. They are linked, but what is the connection?

Great book. Well written and structured. Intelligent read. I struggled with keeping the names straight but very good book and highly recommend.

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Super impressed as always with this series! I could not figure out this complex mystery beforehand but when the end is revealed it made so much sense. I love how Keigo Higashino writes these extremely complex and nuanced characters and plot lines and always gives the story a satisfying ending. Would definitely recommend to all mystery thriller lovers!

Thank you to St Martin’s press and Netgallery for an arc of this book.

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I read this book in a day and I never looked back! The twist and the plot were pretty easy to identify but the different POV's kept me intrigued to see how everything was going to unfold. A couple of the characters were so unlikable that it made it hard to feel bad or connect with them in any way. I do wish that the ending would've given a little more, I wanted to know how the characters dealt with the aftermath.

Overall I give this 5 out 5 because it really was a great book and I will definitely read more from this Author. I enjoyed the thrill of the plot and its twists.

*I received a copy of this eARC via NetGalley*

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Brevity is also one of the things I love about Higashino. Words aren't wasted on fluffy descriptions. He gets straight to the point with each scene, briefly touching on character and setting details before letting the dialog and actions of his characters take the main stage. The solution was unexpected and fresh. We learn more about Detective Kaga's past and there's a hint at what's in store for his future.

Keigo Higashino is a master of suspense. His plots are twisty roads leading readers down a path unknown. I never know what I'll find at the end. The Final Curtain is no different from his other fabulous works of mystery.

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As I love reading works in translation, I chose The Final Curtain, not realizing that it was the final chapter in the series, nor that there are only four out of ten of Keigo Higashino's Detective Kaga thrillers available in English. This did not detract from the truly baffling mystery, the personal details in Kaga's life, and the look into how the investigative system works in Japan.

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"From the acclaimed author of Malice and Newcomer, a confounding murder in Tokyo is connected to the mystery of the disappearance and death of Detective Kaga's own mother.

A decade ago, Tokyo Police Detective Kyoichiro Kaga went to collect the ashes of his recently deceased mother. Years before, she ran away from her husband and son without explanation or any further contact, only to die alone in an apartment far away, leaving her estranged son with many unanswered questions.

Now in Tokyo, Michiko Oshitani is found dead many miles from home. Strangled to death, left in the bare apartment rented under a false name by a man who has disappeared without a trace. Oshitani lived far away in Sendai, with no known connection to Tokyo - and neither her family nor friends have any idea why she would have gone there.

Hers is the second strangulation death in that approximate area of Tokyo - the other was a homeless man, killed and his body burned in a tent by the river. As the police search through Oshitani's past for any clue that might shed some light, one of the detectives reaches out to Detective Kaga for advice. As the case unfolds, an unexpected connective emerges between the murder (or murders) now and the long-ago case of Detective Kaga's missing mother.

The Final Curtain, one of Keigo Higashino's most acclaimed mysteries, brings the story of Detective Kaga to a surprising conclusion in a series of rich, surprising twists."

I know this has nothing really to do with the series other than it ending, but I have "My Way" stuck in my head now.

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First of all, I love reading Keigo Higashino. I read nearly all of his books in English, and he manages to surprise and excite me every single time. So much so that, I want to improve my little Japanese to read his untranslated books, because due to some publishing choice or other, not all of his books belong to a series are translated.

This is unfortunately also true for Detective Kyoichiro Kaga series. Only four of the ten books that belong to this series are translated so far, and "The Final Curtain" is the tenth and the last book of the series. In the previous translation, "A Death in Tokyo" (which is the 9th book of the series) we learn about the details of Kaga's estranged relationship with his father, but in this final book, we learn about his mother in detail thanks to Kaga's own little personal investigation pursuing his mother -who abandoned him and his father when Kaga was only 13 years old. Aside from this, Kaga also needs to solve two different murders that seems totally unrelated, yet, somehow might be related.

All these mysteries unravel one by one as we follow Kaga and his colleagues, never really guessing the outcome. Once more, Higashino creates a great murder mystery that makes his reader keep turning the pages, and even sacrifice their sleep.

I couldn't put down this one either, though if I knew this was the last book in the series, and possibly my last reading of Kaga, I would surely savor it by reading it slower. Definitely recommended.

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#MMDBookClub 2023 Fall Book Preview

Thank you to #StMartinsPress, #MinotaurBooks, and #NetGalley for providing this #ARC Advance Reading Copy. Expected publication date is December 12, 2023.

Crime • Mystery • Translated from the Japanese • 5 Stars

Throughout this series, I couldn’t help but think about Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot character. Detective Kaga is Poirot’s reincarnation in Japan. It becomes even more evident in the titles. Christie’s last Poirot novel was named Curtain. Higashino’s last Kaga novel is called The Final Curtain. Coincidence? I think not.

Both detectives, solve their cases by slowly unfolding details, piece by piece, and finding missing pieces along the way until the completed puzzle is finally revealed. I sure hope that my conclusions are incorrect because I would truly miss the impeccable Mr. Kaga.

“The Final Curtain” is the fourth book in the Detective Kaga series. The story revolves around the murder of Michiko Oshitani, who was found dead in a rented apartment in Tokyo. The case is connected to the disappearance and death of Detective Kaga’s mother, which happened years ago. As the police investigate Oshitani’s past, they reach out to Detective Kaga for advice.

#Bookstagram #DetectiveKaga #KeigoHigashino

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