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Ready to play checkmate with Japan’s No.1 mystery writer?

3 of the most brain-teasing Keigo Higashino mysteries on screen

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There’s something about Keigo Higashino that sends you spinning from page one — and the most intriguing part is that you don’t really know what it is. Or rather, you can’t possibly point at which one of his many strengths as a storyteller he is manipulating to continuously take you by surprise, keep you focused, and absolutely head-over-heels addicted until you finish that last page of any of his books. He’s that kind of a writer — a rare one that keeps you wanting more.

Born in Osaka in 1958, Higashino joined Japan’s literary world while working as an engineer for a leading Japanese company. Writing mystery novels was a hobby of his, an art he had realized he had the skills for, and a passion he kept pursuing in his spare time. In 1985, he won the prestigious mystery novel Edogawa Rampo Prize for his book After School (Hokago), following which he quit the corporate world and devoted himself fully to writing. The rest is history: his dozens of mystery novels, short stories and essays continue to grow his fanbase not only in Japan but around the world, too. In 2017, he became the top royalty-earning foreign writer in China, surpassing literary stars such as J.K. Rowling and fellow Japanese Haruki Murakami.

Today, Higashino is one of the greatest inspirations for Japanese cinema and TV dramas, with over 20 of his works being turned into domestic and overseas major hit productions. And while it’s a challenge for any actor to turn Higashino’s stories into persuasive acting, we look into three of his most complex works that have been adapted for the big screen. If you’re looking for a reason to launch your own Keigo Higashino visual journey, then look no further!

1. Into the White Night (白夜行), 2011

One suspicious death 19 years ago, two suspects who perish in odd circumstances, two children left behind — and one dark secret that holds the key to everything. Based on Higashino’s 1999 bestselling novel of the same name, Into the White Night follows the lives of two children who have grown into adults leading a very different life: Yukiho is a beautiful young lady who everyone is attracted to; Ryoji is an apathetic young man who is constantly involved in ill-fated circumstances. But there is something about him that makes us, the viewers, feel for him, something that tells us that there is a very dark reason that has made him the man he is today. Following a series of plot twists and revelations, this very reason is kept secret until the end — when the heartbreaking ending makes us wish we hadn’t solved this case at all…

Cast:Maki Horikita, Kengo Kora, Eiichiro Funakoshi
Director:Yoshihiro Fukagawa

2. Masquerade Hotel (マスカレード・ホテル), 2019

We’ve come to love Detective Kaga and Detective Galileo from Higashino’s previous series, but in this first sequel of the Masquerade series, we are introduced to Detective Kosuke Nitta — another extraordinarily clever but quite free-spirited man. Following a series of unexplainable deaths where neither of the targets nor death circumstances appear to lead to any clues, the little evidence left at the last crime scene suggests that the next murder will take place at a local luxurious hotel. Detective Nitta joins the hotel crew undercover and is paired with the hotel’s staff Naomi Yamagishi. Now that everyone at the hotel is a suspect, the two are challenged to solve the case and prevent the next crime, together.

Cast:Takuya Kimura, Masami Nagasawa
Director:Masayuki Suzuki

3. Parallel World Love Story, (パラレルワールド・ラブストーリー), 2019

A love triangle with a psycho-thriller plot that will leave you perplexed for at least half of the movie, Parallel World Love Story is based on Higashino’s 1995 novel of the same name and follows the lives of best friends and medical researchers Takashi Tsuruga and Tomohiko Miwa. The story moves back and forth between two realities — one in which Takashi falls in love with a woman he sees on the opposite train, only to later discover that she is Tomohiko’s girlfriend, and another, in which Takashi and the same girl, Mayuko, live as a happy couple, thanks to Tomohiko acting as a matchmaker. The more Takashi moves on with his life, however, the more doubts he begins to have about which reality is real — and why the other exists. When Tomohiko disappears in one of the realities, Takashi begins to put two and two together only to discover that, perhaps, he should never have searched in the first place.

Cast:Yuta Tamamori, Riho Yoshioka, Shota Sometani
Director:Yoshitaka Mori

The three films we’ve introduced above are just the very tip of the iceberg called Keigo Higashino. His works offer a deep and very complex world of stories that will leave you highly entertained, confused and satisfied when you’re finally able to solve his mysteries. A master of storytelling and brain-teasing — and a skilled explorer of the human mind’s most profound emotions — Keigo Higashino’s world is one worth diving into.

Text by Rose Haneda