Friday, May 4, 2012

The Devotion of Suspect X

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X

Author: Keigo Higashino

Most murder mystery stories provide clues and you have to decipher: Who did it. Most often than not, towards the end of the book you are able to guess correctly who the murderer was. On occasions you are left gasping at the turn of events -- if you had guessed incorrectly! Well, The Devotion of Suspect X is very different. You learn in the first few pages it-self that Yasuko aided by her daughter kills her ex-husband, Togashi. Well, then, how does this book become a page turner?

It does so by leaving you pondering whether Yasuko will be caught. Yasuko is working in a bento box (Japanese lunch box shop) and is raising her teenage daughter Misato single handidly. Her ex-husband, who is a good for nothing guy, returns one day, wanting to get back together and of course he wants money. He threatens to harm their daughter, if Yasuko does not agree.

Things turn for the worse and the mother and daughter duo murder him. Their next door neighbour Ishigami, who is also a mathematics teacher (read he is a great strategist) comes to their aid. This knight-in-shining armour assures them that they will avoid prosecution and punishment, when the police begin to investigate, provided they do exactly as his says.

Yes, like any other mystery novel there is a police detective thrown in,who in turn gets so perplexed that he consults his friend a physicist called Yukawa. Both Yukawa and Ishigami who were once classmates are now pitted against each other. The battle of wits begins and it is this that makes the book so interesting.

Ishigami is busy creating smoke screens and trying to lead the investigation into an unsolvable maze, whereas Yukawa is busy trying to see through such ploys. Predictably, as the warring parties (if one may use this term) are a mathematician and a physicist, a lot of philosophy and mathematical proofs are thrown in the book.

I think it is the first murder mystery that I’ve read wherein I knew who the murderer was and at the same time continued to turn the pages to know whether or not Yasuko would be caught. I could emphase with her, after all, the murder was more to protect her daughter from harm than anything else.

While I will not provide a spoiler and say what happens in the end, it is a gripping novel. I loved the story line. I only wish it had made for a tad more enjoyable reading as the narration at times appears to be quite dry. I guess, this happens in case of any translation and this book has been translated from Japanese.

As Wikipedia states, The Devotion of Suspect X has won many awards in Japan. It is the third book in the Detective Galileo series penned by Japanese author Keigo Higashinio. With its English translation, it seems to be increasing in popularity world over.

I would recommend this book, just because, it is so very different from the run of the mill murder mystery novels and is rich in content and strategies.

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Catarina said...

Sounds like a great read, Lubna. Did you know that in Sweden detective stories are read more than any other type of books?

Personally love them when I just want to escape to another reality. Frequently change from Cicero to say, Somerset Maugham and then to John Grisham.

Reading is such a wonderful part of life that I absolutely love.

Lubna said...

Somerset Maugham is my all time favourite. I love his short stories and an eternal favourite is Of Human Bondage. Thanks for visiting.

Susan P. Cooper said...

I love a good mystery. This very much intrigues me because of the way it starts out. I love to read so i see a really good book as a gift that takes time to unwrap. I will be looking to find this book. :), Susan Cooper