In Silent Parade (Minotaur, Dec.), bestselling Japanese author Higashino—who is so reclusive he wouldn’t provide PW with a photograph of himself to accompany this interview—crafts another puzzle for physics professor Manabu Yukawa, whose ingenuity has led the Tokyo police to call him Detective Galileo.
Where did the character of Detective Galileo come from?
I always wanted to write novels based on my experiences as an engineer. Still, it wouldn’t be believable if a science professor somehow got involved in a police investigation time after time, so I had to figure out a way to repeatedly bring him into the picture. I settled on having “Galileo,” in reality Professor Manabu Yukawa, be a close friend from college of a homicide detective, Det. Chief Insp. Shunpei Kusanagi. As for the character of Galileo, I was inspired by the 1970s Japanese anime series Doraemon. The title character of that series is a futuristic cat robot that pulls out fantastic gadgets from his pocket.
How has Detective Galileo evolved from your initial conception?
At first, Detective Galileo was merely a handy puzzle-solving device for the detective/narrator, just as Doraemon is. However, since The Devotion of Suspect X [the first in the series translated into English, but the third one written], his character has begun to flesh out and I’ve started paying attention to his development as an individual.
What authors inspired the story line of Silent Parade?
For those who haven’t read Silent Parade yet, spoiler warning—it was inspired by a famous book by Agatha Christie. There’s also a key plot point derived from John Dickson Carr’s classic Sir Henry Merrivale locked-room mystery novel, The Judas Window.
What was the hardest part of writing Silent Parade, and how did the process compare with your previous Galileo books?
It’s always the same for me—the hardest part is that I spend a lot of time thinking how I could surprise the reader and their expectations. All the previous full-length books featuring Galileo, as opposed to the short stories, were written for and first appeared as serials in magazines, and were written as such. Silent Parade, on the other hand, I’d finished writing the entire novel before it was published. And by writing it that way, I had the opportunity to refine and revise the plot as much as I wanted.