Hollow Cross

Hollow Cross

Utsuro na jujika / 虚ろな十字架

AuthorKeigo Higashino
ISBN 9784334929442
Page Count 326 pages
Size 15.4 x 10.5 cm (HxW)
First Edition May 2014
Category Crime novel, Fiction
Publisher Kobunsha
Foreign Sales
  • Korean,
  • Simplified Chinese,
  • Traditional Chinese,
  • Vietnamese,
Simplified ChineseChina South Booky Culture Media
Traditional ChineseSpring Publishing
VietnameseAZ Vietnam

Hollow Cross

Utsuro na jujika / 虚ろな十字架


Freelance writer Sayoko Hamaoka is stabbed to death on the street. Shortly afterward, 68-year-old Sakuzo Machimura turns himself in to the police and confesses to the crime, claiming that he did it for money. But we ultimately learn that her murder is linked to a previously unknown killing perpetrated by two teenage sweethearts, 21 years earlier.

Eleven years prior to Sayoko’s own murder, her young daughter was killed by a man who had just been released from prison, a tragedy that left Sayoko sharply critical of a judicial system focused solely on the rehabilitation of criminals while remaining indifferent to the plight of the victims. Believing that anyone who takes the life of another human being should die for that crime, and wishing to amplify this point of view in public discourse, Sayoko was writing, at the time of her death, a book that was to be titled The Violence of Capital Punishment Abolitionism.

Deeply moved by the incomplete manuscript his wife left behind and encouraged by Sayoko’s editor, widower Michimasa Nakahara determines to complete the manuscript for publication. As he retraces some of Sayoko’s steps, he learns that a woman she interviewed named Saori Iguchi, now 36, had in her teens been lovers with confessed killer Sakuzo Machimura’s son-in-law, Fumiya Nishina, now 37. The teen lovers’ lives as adults could hardly have been less alike: besides repeatedly slashing her wrists, Saori has twice been convicted of shoplifting and has spent time behind bars, while Fumiya graduated from a well-known medical school and has built a happy family and successful career. The sharp contrast traces back to how they had together handled an unwanted pregnancy 21 years before—killing the newborn and burying it deep in the ground. Having uncovered this truth in the course of her reporting, Sayoko had pressured Saori to turn herself in, saying Fumiya should do the same; if they refused to do so, she would expose their crime herself.

Fumiya’s wife Hanae (Sakuzo’s daughter) had once yielded to a lover’s requests for large sums of money, only to then be abandoned by him when she became pregnant. She was in fact wandering about looking for a place to die with her unborn child when Fumiya had found her and prevented her from going through with her plan. The real reason Sakuzo murdered Sayoko was to preserve the happiness his daughter had found with Fumiya, which would be instantly torn to shreds if Sayoko were to go public with what Fumiya had done in his teens.

Although he has now learned everything that Sayoko knew before her death, Michimasa arrives at a different conclusion. When Fumiya acknowledges all, Michimasa says to him, “What must a person who killed someone do to atone for what he has done? I really don’t know how to answer that question. So whatever you conclude at the end of your torments, I’m going to consider that to be the right answer.” Not long afterward, he learns that Fumiya and Saori have turned themselves in to the police…

Author Keigo Higashino’s own variation on Crime and Punishment, this novel gives nuanced portrayals of the psychology of perpetrators and victims in three separate murders, delving deeply into the ramifications of capital punishment as well as the question of how a person can atone for wrongs he has committed.

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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