May 10, 2012

Book Review : The Devotion of Suspect X

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Translated by : Alexander O. Smith
Genre: Crime Fiction

How far would you go to protect your love? Suspect X (Ishigami) proves that one can go to any lengths for the sake of love.

The Plot

"Which is harder:devising an unsolvable problem, or solving that problem?". This quote from the book pretty much summarizes the plot.

Ishigami, a genius mathematician, is a teacher at a local school and harbors a secret love for his neighbour Yasuko Hanaoka, a single mother. She works in a Japanese lunch box shop and raises her teenage daughter Misato with the income. On day, her violent ex-husband Shinji Togashi turns up at her door and harasses her for money. A struggle follows, during which Yasuko and Misato end up killing Togashi.

Ishigami finds out and helps them cover up the crime. The great strategist that he is, he comes up with the perfect plan to protect the mother and daughter duo.

Enter police detective Kusanagi and his junior Kishitani who are investigating the murder.They are puzzled by the mysterious circumstances of the case. Kusanagi discusses the case with his friend Yukawa, an assistant physics professor at Imperial University, who is also a police consultant.
When Yukawa realizes that his old classmate Ishigami is somehow connected to the mystery, he takes a keen interest in the case.
There ensues a cat and mouse game and  it is Yukawa who ultimately solves the mystery.

How will Ishigami save Yasuko and her daughter? That is the central theme of 'The Devotion of Suspect X'.

The Main Characters

Tetsuya Ishigami: Maths teacher at a local school,the genius neighbour of Yasuko Hanaoka

Yasuko Hanaoka: Single mother who ends up killing her ex-husband

Misato: Yasuko's daughter from a previous marriage

Manabu Yukawa: Assistant physics professor at Imperial University; nicknamed Detective Galileo

Kusanagi: Police detective who is perplexed by the strange murder mystery

Shinji Togashi: Yasuko's good for nothing ex-husband

My views

The Devotion of Suspect X is the third book in the Detective Galileo series by Keigo Higashino. This is the first Japanese novel I have read and  I really liked it. The author deserves to be applauded for creating an extraordinary thriller. No wonder that over 2million copies of the book have been sold!

The author Keigo Higashino has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards  for this book and that certainly raised my level of expectation about the quality of the book. And I must say that the author has done a brilliant job.

This is not a run of the mill murder mystery -instead of a whodunit, the book bases the mystery on how Ishigami will save Yasuko and her daughter. This different approach makes for a refreshing read.
Inspite of knowing who the murderer is, I was hooked to the story as I was curious to know whether the brilliant man Ishigami manages to outwit the police.
I was totally engrossed in the book and felt close to the characters.I couldn't help feeling sorry for Yasuko who is portrayed as a vulnerable beauty, caught in a difficult situation. I also sympathized with Ishigami when he felt jealous of Yasuko's romantic involvement with an old acquaintance.

Speaking about the negatives, that the translation could have been better. Some parts of the book are dull, bland and repetitive. This could be because of the writing style of the author or the translator's mistake. In addition, the Japanese names were a bit confusing at first, but later i got used to them. Another thing which I noticed was that the story moves quite slowly which tested my patience occasionally.

If you ignore these minor flaws, the book is wonderful. Definitely worth reading!

My rating: 4stars out of 5  Highly recommended

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