|18 January 2017|
Keigo Higashino is one of the best living exponents of the detective novel. He writes in Japanese, and is one of the most successful writers in the language. His novels have also been successful worldwide, in translation. Alexander O Smith is the regular English translator of Higashino’s works, and while I do not read Japanese, the verdict of online detective forums and review sites is that he does an excellent job in keeping the flavour of the original text intact. I used to have a grouse that translation of genre fiction, especially detective fiction, is either rare to find, or of substandard quality. I am delighted that the trend is reversing.
Higashino’s novels, featuring his famous Professor Manabu Yukawa aka Detective Galileo, veer far away from mainstream detective fiction, and yet retains the feel of a normal crime novel. Higashino does this by maintaining many common tropes of the genre. There’s the lead man, an eccentric pompous, curmudgeonly genius of a private detective. The police are full of bluster and quick to draw conclusions, but are not absolutely hopeless.