Author: Keigo Higashino
Originally published in Japanese (2005)
Published by:Abacus for Hachette India
Source:Blogadda book review programme
The Devotion of Suspect X is a difficult book to review. After all ,what’s the point in reviewing a book which has sold more than 2 million copies worldwide till date?Millions of people can’t go wrong anyways,right?I was seriously thinking about buying this book when I chanced upon Blog adda’s announcement on this book being a part of their Book review programme.Thanks to the wonderful people at Blogadda that I am here reviewing this Japanese best seller by Keigo Higashino.
Before proceeding to the review,let me make a small confession here.I am someone who totally hates Mathematics.(Confused?Read on,your doubts will be cleared as the review progresses!)
The Plot: Ishigami is a Maths teacher who has a huge crush on his neighbour,the middle aged Yasuko,who works at Benten-tei,the shop which makes boxed lunches.Though she lives next door to him,the introvert he is,Ishigami doesn’t have the courage to express his feelings for her.One day her ex-husband Shinji Togashi turns up at her small apartment(where she lives along with her teenaged daughter),picks up a fight with her and ends up getting killed by the mother-daughter duo.Ishigami helps Yasuko and her daughter Misato to cover up the murder.Enter the soft spoken detective Kusanagi and his assistant Kishitani investigating the murder of Togashi .Kusanagi has got an acquaintance in Yukawa(fondly referred to as ‘Inspector Galileo’),a brilliant Physics professor of Imperial university who helps him out when his investigations meet a dead end.But the twist in the tale comes when Ishigami turns out to be an old friend of Yukawa.The Devotion Of Suspect X is basically a cat and mouse game between Ishigami and the investigators.
The Characters: What I found brilliant about the book is how the lead characters were built-tangible and believable.The book offers a good character study.Instead of showering the reader with dozens of shallow characters (which is quite the norm with crime thrillers)Higashino gives us a couple of well etched out,three dimensional characters with the traits of each one of them getting revealed one by one as the story progresses.So in the beginning of the story we are introduced to Ishigami as a silent,meek school teacher who is too timid to express his love to his neighbour.Halfway through the story we realize that he is actually a Mathematical genius who couldn’t make it big in life.Though the female lead,Yasuko gets side lined somewhere in the middle it’s heartening that she doesn’t end up as a mere prop.There is an element of mystery surrounding the character of Yukawa and there are instances in the story which make the reader doubt whose side is he really in.Another important character in the story is Kudo,the man who is romantically inclined to Yasuko.
The Writing:Though ‘TDOSX’ starts off in a predictable manner with clichéd situations and a pretty familiar story line leaving the reader with a sense of dejavu,the predictability wanes off once the first 30-35 pages of the book are done with.The act,the motive,the killer and the victim are all revealed in these initial pages.From then on, the pace picks up and the novel becomes a thrilling and exciting read.The book also gives an insight into the Japanese culture.So we get to know that Benten is the Japanese goddess of wealth and a Tatami is a type of mat used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese- style rooms. A few Japanese words are also mentioned here and there but the translators have made sure that they don’t end up confusing the reader by throwing in too many of them.The book makes a couple of interesting observations as well(the ‘Mathematics-Treasure Hunt’ comparison was good) .The book is fast paced and packs in a lot of twists and turns.The climactic twist is nothing but terrific.
The Scenes which I liked the most in the book are-
1.The one in which Ishigami explains his student, Morioka the relevance of Integral and differential calculus by throwing in the example of motor cycle racers.
2.The scenes between Yasuko and Kudo.
What I didn’t like:
1.The first 30 pages of the book were boring and predictable.
The Final Verdict: On the whole,Keigo Higashino’s ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ is a must read.I am giving 4.25/5 for this brilliant thriller.
This review is a part of Blogadda book review programme.
-reviewed by nikhimenon