"I'm investigating the case, of course. But that isn't a detective's only job. If there are people who got hurt because of the case, then those people are victims too. Finding a way to help those victims, that's the work of a detective."
Hmm, I might as well do these reviews back to back...
Shinzanmono, discussed yesterday, ended in the summer season of 2010, but it was followed up by a prequel TV special early this year. Akai Yubi ~ Shinzanmono Kaga Kyouichirou Futatabi! ("Red Fingers ~ Newcomer's Kaga Kyouchirou Returns!") is based on the novel Akai Yubi ("Red Fingers") by Higashino Keigo and is set two years before the events of Shinzanmono, when Kaga was still working at the Nerima Ward police station. It's the seventh part in the Kaga Kyouichirou series (Shinzanmono being the eight) and the direct sequel to Uso wo mou hitotsu dake.
Kaga Kyouichirou series
Sotsugyou ("Graduation") (1986)
Nemuri no Mori ("Forest of Sleep") (1989)
Dochiraka ga Kanojo wo Koroshita ("One of the Two Killed Her") (1996)
Akui ("Malice") (1996)
Watashi ga Kare wo Koroshita ("I Killed Him") (1999)
Uso wo Mou Hitotsu Dake ("One More Lie") (2000)
Akai Yubi ("Red Fingers") (2006)
Shinzanmono ("Newcomer") (2009)
Kirin no Tsubasa ("The Wings of the Kirin") (2011)
Inori no Maku ga Oriru Toki ("When the Curtains of Hope Come Down") (2013)
The story starts when salaryman Maehara Akio gets a phone call from his wife Yaeko, begging him to come home at once. When he arrives home, he discovers that the body of a young girl, a second-grader, is lying strangled in his garden. His wife tells him that their hikikomori son Naomi, who had some violent streaks in the past, has strangled the girl. At first, Akio wants to report it the police, but after some pleading by his wife (and an attempted suicide), he agrees to dump the body somewhere else to protect his son. The body is found the next day in a public bathroom and the MPD suspects it's a sexual deviant that commited the crime. However, it doesn't take long before Kaga Kyouichirou zeroes in on the Maehara's. Seeing Kaga snooping around, the Maehara's try to outsmart the police with a big gambit.
While it's not a necessity, an inverted detective is usually more fun if you have at least some sympathy for the culprit. I want to root for the criminal a bit. It was sadly enough practically impossible to do so in this story. The son Naomi, hikikomori or not, is so unlikable that you wonder why the mother (and by extension, their father) do their best to hide his murder (especially if you watch this right after the Shinzanmono finale). Naomi plays games while his parents are doing the upmost best to destroy all evidence, he eats a meal while his father is carrying the body away and freaks out everytime anybody tries to confront him with anything. The mother was horrible too (threathening to commit suicide if her husband told the police about their son's crime) and while I sorta sympathized with the father, the gambit he takes in the later half of the story is just too horrible to accept.
If you have a sympathetic murderer in an inverted detective, or at least an interesting antagonist (a very smart person, someone with a very good plan, or a cop or something like that), than the game between the detective and culprit can be a delight to watch. Here I really wanted Kaga to stop with his psychological games as soon as possible so he could get the kid in jail.
The plot itself is rather straight-forward and is Higashino-style more focused on human drama than the mystery, though he manages to slip a nice plot-twist near the end. The story is a lot more dramatic than Shinzanmono though, which was like a feel-good-story-of-the-week (despite it being a murder investigation).
Furuhata Ninzaburou is already over and I never really got into Aibou ("Partners"), also featuring a detective who likes to 'harrass' people, so more Kaga Kyouichirou series with Abe Hiroshi would be great. How awesome would a series of Dochiraka ga Kanojo wo Koroshita be!
May 26 Addendum: It seems that Abe Hiroshi is going to star in a 2012 Shinzanmono movie, based on the newest book in the Kaga Kyouichirou series: Kirin no Tsubasa ("The Wings of the Kirin"). Yay?!
Original Japanese title(s): 『赤い指〜「新参者」加賀恭一郎再び!』 based on 東野圭吾 『赤い指』