This book is a collection of short stories from the series Sadato Sakata (佐方貞人シリーズ).
This is the second book of the series, but from what I understand, the events described in 『検事の本懐』happened before those described in the first book of the series. As a consequence, I think that starting with 『検事の本懐』is not a problem.
Sadato Sakata is a public prosecutor. Even though most people misjudge him at first, he is one of the best, and those who work with him soon realise it. The five short stories are told from the point of view of colleagues, police officers or journalists who get to work with Sakata.
I found this book to be very interesting. It was first of all refreshing to follow the work of a public prosecutor instead of the usual police officers and detectives we find in most mystery and crime novels. While I am used to reading how the police works and conduct an investigation, I am less familiar with other aspects of the prosecution, like those depicted in 『検事の本懐』.
All five stories had interesting plots, and I liked how they all managed to be suspenseful while being more on the realistic side than most detective novels that I have read. Yuko Yuzuki does not only describe a case, but also the work of people involved in its resolution, the difficulties and frustrations they encounter.
I particularly enjoyed the fourth story. It stages a political scandal that reminded me of the real Moritomo/Kake scandals that burst out some time ago. What you read in the news are generally the results of the investigation: how they found this damning document or extracted information from this person. What the short story describes is all the hard (and not always pleasant) work that is behind. It was highly instructive!
We also learn a lot about Sadato Sakata’s past throughout these stories, especially the third and last one. I liked the character of Sakata, even though I don’t feel particularly attached to him.
As for the Japanese level, most stories were okay to me, but others had challenging parts. For example, the fourth story that I mentioned above contained difficult parts (mainly those describing the political scandal) and I had to look up words and read some passages twice. Generally speaking, reading this book was more difficult than reading Keigo Higashino, but it was not too hard either.