When it comes to Japanese crime fiction, Keigo Higashino is my favourite author, and when it comes to Keigo Higashino, the books of the Kaga series are my favourite ones. No surprise then, that I loved 『麒麟の翼』.
The investigative parts of the novel were excellent and engrossing, exactly what a reader of detective fiction is looking for. However, the novel is not a simple investigation, it also goes deep into how a murder case affects everyone involved, the relatives of the victims of course, but also the relatives of the person accused. As it is said in the novel, finding the culprit is not enough to close the case. As long as we don’t understand why it happened, the families and relatives will continue to suffer.
『麒麟の翼』 is the perfect balance between a well-paced and engrossing investigation and an in-depth work on the characters and how they feel.
Watching Kyoichiro Kaga working is also a pure joy. I find that Higashino really managed to make Kaga an iconic detective by giving him a distinctive way of investigating. Leaving no stone unturned, paying attention to details and constantly checking everything are Kaga’s distinctive features.
If you want to read 『麒麟の翼』 I really recommend that you read 『赤い指』 and 『新参者』 first. You can read all the books of the series independently, but I find that there is a shift starting with 『赤い指』 where the books start having an underlying chronological thread whereas the previous books were more independent from one another. For example, in 『新参者』, Kaga had just been assigned to Nihonbashi and was solving his first case there while familiarising himself with 日本橋人形町. In 『麒麟の翼』, Kaga seems to know every street and shop of the area, which is a nod to 『新参者』.
『麒麟の翼』 also contains elements that are the direct continuation of 『赤い指』. It also reveals things relative to Kaga’s relation with his father that you only learn at the end of 『赤い指』, so it is best to read this one first. In both novels, Kaga is working together with his cousin Shuhei Matsumiya, so again, if you have read 『赤い指』, you might enjoy 『麒麟の翼』 even more.
Recommended reading order: 赤い指 👉 新参者 👉 麒麟の翼
Lastly, I also recommend that you don’t read the summary on the back cover because it reveals things we only learn late in the novel. I had already noticed that summaries tend to reveal much too much, so I took the habit of reading them only after I finish the book.