I asked to review The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino in spite of not being a fan of modern murder-mysteries. Here is why “…..won the 134th Naoki Prize , the 6th Honkaku Mystery Grand Prize, 2006 Honkaku Mystery Best 10 and Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! 2006, annual mystery fiction guide books published in Japan, ranked the novel as the number one”(Wikipedia). I’ve read only serious books for a while now and thought an international whodunit would make a good change.
This novel is part of a detective series in which an assistant professor of physics, Manabu Yukawa, nicknamed “Detective Galileo,” helps his college friend, Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police, in his investigations. Manabu is portrayed as a hard-core scientist, a genius whose ability to logically solve problems is unmatched. Yes, a gainfully employed Japanese Sherlock Holmes without the flair and cocaine. The story is a cage fight between a physicist and a mathematician, and what happens when unforseen variables are introduced into an otherwise perfect equation.
In this story, he stumbles across his college friend Shinji Togashi, who is somehow involved in the latest case.
It is a short, absorbing read, even though not as “thrilling” as a western murder mystery would be, nor as laid back as Poirot was. Yukawa is a brooding-brilliant man and Detective Kusanagi is a sharp typical copper.
The story begins when, Yasuko Hanaoka an ex-hostess accidentally kills her abusive ex husband who had been stalking her and threatening her daughter. Togashi, who is her neighbor and has a crush on her hears the ruckus and comes over and helps them clean up the mess. He tells them that he would “take care of everything” and they just had to do as he said. Togashi who we later discover to be a mathematical genius spins a “perfect formula” to ensure that the police cannot catch Hanaoka for the crime.
The police and Professor Yukawa come into the picture when an unknown man’s body washes up on a nearby river’s bank and some snooping by the police reveals its connection to Yasuko and later, Togashi. The author has done a fantastic job at leading us on, unraveling a mystery we think we already know an end to.
The clue-deduction chain is almost perfect, yet mysterious enough to leave us guessing till the end, when Yukawa makes a crucial decision about his friend’s guilt based on a passing remark by Togashi. That was a leap of faith and far too crucial for the story to be taken lightly, and it almost spoils the ending, but a twist upon a twist that the author delivers, even if predictably melodramatic, saves the ending.
In all, it is a well written story, good detection, a few plot-holes but saved by drama. Not extraordinary, but above average.
Note: I received this book from Blogadda for review.