Like Columbo, Newcomer is a new approach to a police procedural. Eight stories each tell an investigative tale. By the last chapter, the detective has solved the crime.
Precinct Detective Sergeant Kaga is a new transfer to Tokyo’s police department investigating a murder. He is a self-effacing bumbler on the surface but in reality is as smart as a whip. Each of the eight individual stories are interesting for their captivating character studies. They show both the similarities and differences between life in Japan and in America. However, they also provide clues to the overall mystery, the murder of a recently divorced woman. For example, Kaga verifies a suspect’s alibi by whether the suspect was wearing his suit coat when he went to the rice cracker shop. In other stories, Kaga tracks down the sweet buns and kitchen scissors found at the scene of the murder. In all the stories, the people Kaga is interviewing, and the reader, do not know what or why he is investigating seemingly unrelated items.
I adored this delightful Japanese take on a police procedural! The character studies were interesting enough on their own to read the book. There were definitely clues to the murderer’s identity for the observant reader, which unfortunately was not me. However, I liked the challenge. Newcomer has my highest recommendation for anyone looking for something completely different that most mystery books. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.