Whose Is the Cuckoo’s Egg?

Kakko no tamago wa dare no mono / カッコウの卵は誰のもの?

AuthorKeigo Higashino
ISBN 9784334765293
Page Count 392 pages
Size 15.4 x 10.5 cm (HxW)
First Edition January 2010
Category Mystery, Fiction
Publisher Kobunsha

Whose Is the Cuckoo’s Egg?

Kakko no tamago wa dare no mono / カッコウの卵は誰のもの?


Hiromasa Hida was once one of Japan’s premier skiers, representing the country in international competitions; his daughter Kazami is also a skier. When Kazami was two, his wife—Kazami’s mother—committed suicide. Hida was on an extended tour overseas when Kazami was born, and only when he goes through his wife’s effects after her death does he learn that she had had a miscarriage: Kazami is not their real daughter. In spite of his distress at this discovery, he continues to love Kazami and raise her as his own, and she develops into an even better skier than he.

Then, hoping to discover links between genetics and skill that they can put to use in their skier training program, Kazami’s ski team seeks permission to study the genomes of both father and daughter. Not wishing the secret of her birth to be revealed, Hida denies the request. Then Kazami receives a threat to prevent her from appearing in a competition, and this is followed by a bus bombing that was clearly targeted at her. Critically injured in the bombing is Nobuyuki Kamijo, the president of a construction company who has come to try to meet Kazami, claiming to be a fan.

Who is behind the threat, and what is its objective? Who are Kazami’s true parents? As Hida undertakes his own private investigations to answer these questions, he learns that Nobuyuki is Kazami’s biological father. Her mother is Hiroe Hatanaka, Nobuyuki’s mistress at the time, and a friend of Hida’s wife. Nobuyuki had in fact been on his way to see Kazami to ask her to be a bone marrow donor for her half-brother Fumiya, who suffers from leukemia. Born to Nobuyuki and his legal wife, Fumiya had learned beforehand of his father’s plan, and fearing that his mother would learn of his father’s past indiscretion, tried to head it off by sending a threatening letter to Nobuyuki, warning him to stay away from Kazami if he doesn’t want to see her dead. The ploy had failed, however, when, out of concern for Kazami’s safety, Nobuyuki made his own threat to Kazami in hopes that it would trigger beefed-up security around her. Fumiya then came up with a plan B, which was to bomb the bus. The intent was to injure Kazami and disqualify her from being a donor, but it is instead his father who falls victim. After Nobuyuki draws his last breath, Fumiya confesses all and chooses to go to his death as well. In a final testament addressed to Hida, he asks him to keep the truth from Kazami and always remain her father. Hida agonizes, but ultimately decides not to reveal the truth—after all, “the cuckoo’s chick bears no blame.”

Written by an Edgar-nominated author, the novel has sold over 800,000 copies.

About the Author

Keigo Higashino東野 圭吾

Keigo Higashino (1958–) is arguably Japan’s biggest bestseller machine today. After graduating from college with a technical degree he went to work for an auto-parts maker as an engineer, but wrote fiction on the side and began submitting his work for the Edogawa Rampo Prize competition; he made his literary debut in 1985 when he won the prize for Hōkago (After-School Hours). With this success under his belt he turned to writing full-time, and by the mid-nineties his works were drawing considerable attention. When he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1998 for the novel Naoko (tr. 2004; original title Himitsu), it became a huge hit, and in the years that followed he produced one bestseller after another. After five previous appearances on the short list for the coveted Naoki Prize, he finally won in 2006 for The Devotion of Suspect X (tr. 2011); the English translation of this work was also nominated for an Edgar award in 2012. He is best known for the Detective Galileo series, to which Suspect X belongs, and the Detective Kaga series, set in Tokyo’s old shitamachi (low city) area and to which Shinzanmono (Newcomer; winner of a Konomys No. 1 ranking) belongs. Higashino also boasts an extensive and varied body of other works, including black-humor novels. The novel Namiya Zakkaten no kiseki (The Miracles of the Namiya General Store) received the Chuo Koron Literary Prize in 2012, Mugenbana (Dream Flower) the Shibata Renzaburō Award in 2013, and Inori no maku ga oriru toki (When the Curtain Falls on Prayer) the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature in 2014.

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