Review : The Devotion of Suspect X

by Lakshmi Palaniappan on October 25, 2012

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Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Little Brown
Year: 2011
ISBN: 9780349138732
Rating: ★★★★½
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I was forced to buy this book, by a friend, who had already read half of it and wanted to finish it. It was with a bit of apprehension that I started this book. But, what a roller coaster ride it was!

“The Japanese Stieg Larsson” is how the book has been popularized. This plays both to the book’s advantage as well as disadvantage. Stieg Larsson is an epic and automatically one expects a lot of out of this novel! Inevitable conclusions when the advertising has been such.

But, to have kept up to the expectations, is an achievement indeed! I have one word to describe this book – Killer!! The language is deceptively simple and the narration pulls you in, right from the very first page. Sometimes, the flow of the novel gets lost in translation and it becomes a boring piece of work. “The Devotion of Suspect X” breaks all such barriers!

Set in Tokyo, Japan, Ishigami, the seemingly uncomplicated high school math teacher has more to him than one can see. Yasuko, the abused single mother, Yukawa, the intriguing professor and Detective Kusanagi form the crux of the story. If you think the names confuse you, then the actual plot would leave your mouth agape. The story starts off, in an unassuming way, with the happenings in Ishigami’s day to day life. How this mere description will play an important role later on in the book, is an example of Keigo Higashino’s true genius!

Yasuko, the ordinary mother commits an extraordinary crime and Ishigami gets pulled into the web as well, as an accomplice. Following, Detective Kusanagi has a mystery to solve and the readers (well, I did) think they know the solution, but what a twist in the tale the authors gives us! The crime, a murder, appears to have no solution and Ishigami, a born mathematician and analyst seems to have buried all evidences. There is no body, no finger prints, no weapon! But out of the blue arises Yukawa, a professor and an ex-class mate of Ishigami. Can he find what the entire Tokyo police department couldn’t?

The role of Professor Yukawa is well etched and admirable. The story picks up momentum, once the evidences of the crime are discovered and all arrows turn towards Yasuko. But, why can’t Kusanagi make an arrest? Isn’t the evidence enough? What role does Yukawa play? And most riveting of all, how did Ishigami get involved and how did he make it a fool proof murder ?

 With every chapter, the author throws more and more twists and the climax is a bolt out of the blue! I can do nothing but marvel at how Keigo Higashino’s though process has worked. The last few chapters define the entire novel and sate the appetite that the author had worked up within the readers throughout the length of the novel. “Unputdownable” may not be an actual word, but nothing else would fit this novel more aptly.

A must read!

 

Written by Lakshmi Palaniappan

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