4 mysteries with great locations, finely detailed plots

From 18th-century Sweden to contemporary Japan, these thrillers take readers around the globe.

3. 'Salvation of a Saint,' by Keigo Higashino

I have a soft spot for locked-room mysteries, and “Salvation of a Saint,” by Keigo Higashino, is a particularly clever entry in the genre. A man is found dead of poison in his Tokyo home. Every door and window – except one on the second floor that is too small for a human – was locked. The most likely suspect, the wife he just asked for a divorce, was hundreds of miles away at the time, and the victim prepared the coffee himself. No trace of the poison was found in the bottled water he preferred or the ground coffee in the refrigerator, and his lover used the same kettle that morning to make coffee for both of them.

“A detective who worried about hitting dead ends should consider a change of profession,” thinks the lead investigator, but they are nonetheless stumped. In this case, howdunit is such an enticing intellectual problem that it lures in physicist Manabu Yukawa, aka “Detective Galileo,” despite his vow to avoid further police entanglements. Readers who like an ingenious puzzle will enjoy pitting their intellect against Galileo's.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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