Book Review: 『誰か』by Miyuki Miyabe

誰か (だれか)
Title: 誰か (だれか)
First published: 2003
Published: 2007
Format: Bunko
Series Number: 1
Page Count: 469
誰か』is a mystery novel and the first book of the series featuring Saburo SUGIMURA (杉村三郎シリーズ). Saburo SUGIMURA, the protagonist of this book and the whole series, works for his father-in-law's company Imada Konzern. He lives with his wife and daughter and has nothing to do with detective work or investigation. But everything changes when his father-in-law's private chauffeur dies in an accident. Sugimura will help the chauffeur's two daughters to write a book on their…

What I liked the most in this novel is the protagonist Saburo Sugimura. It is interesting to see a series starting before the protagonist becomes a detective. In this novel, Sugimura is just an ordinary salaryman, he does not have any particular skills, but he is kind and has a strong sense of justice, and it is easy to identify with him. I want to know how Sugimura will evolve so I will definitely read the other books of the series.

I found that the book had a realistic touch that might be frustrating for the amateur of detective novels. Sugimura is not a detective and while he does “investigate”, some or most of his work leads to nothing. The novel shows how hard it is for an ordinary person without connections to suddenly turn into a detective and solve a case. On the one hand, it allowed the reader to identify with the protagonist and eventually like him, but on the other hand, I found that the plot was not engaging enough for a mystery novel.

If you add to this a very slow start that needs to justify why Sugimura starts playing the detective and helps the two sisters, the book felt overall very long and slow-paced. The end, however, was very good, and the book was pleasant to read.

While 『誰か』is not one of my favourite detective novel, it made me want to read the other books of the series. To me, the characters are more important than the plot, and I will prefer a slow-paced plot with characters I like rather than a suspenseful story with characters that I cannot understand or with whom I cannot identify.