Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Hachette India
It is always difficult to review a book which has already sold over 2 million copies in the native country; is based out of a popular detective (Galileo) TV series, led to a Japanese blockbuster who had raked in big-time money, have won numerous film awards and literary prizes along with a Korean film version of the book which is under production. Almost everything has been said before, every plot-point has been deliberated and each character has been chewed multiple times. But, still let's try.
Yasuko and her daughter Misato is living an ordinary existence in a Tokyo suburb. Yasuko works at a bento shop and is sure that she has outrun her blackmailing ex-husband, Togashi. But he turns up one night at their apartment and ends up dead. To the rescue of Yasuko comes a neighbour Ishigami, otherwise a mathematical genius who does a day job of being a school teacher to reluctant boys and a judo teacher in the evening. His devotion to Yasuko appears absolute, and both mother and daughter starts following his instructions in order to evade suspicion of murder when the police start their investigations.
What follows is the thrilling cover-up and dismantling of the crime-of-passion murder. However, unlike most conventional thrillers with a heist at its core, this one’s not a whodunit – it can’t be, because you know all along who’s done it – the question instead is, how are they going to get away with it, if at all? The Devotion of Suspect X also alludes to a chess game, as two masterminds, novice criminal and unofficial detective, engage in a cold fight to the finish line.
The book’s biggest accomplishment is the manner in which it compels you, the viewer to think differently – midway through the book you’ve got the drift, you begin to expect the unexpected, you even begin to predict what’s going to happen next. That’s the level of involvement you’re able to muster up for this book. You seriously feel for each of the characters, not just the victims but the investigators; each of them trying to out think each other, trying to gain brownie points each time they interact. The dialogues are precise and things get hot up when all of them literally starts punching and plummeting each other with verbal antics.
If there is a problem with the book, it is his length which stays well over 350 odd pages. For a taut thriller, that is around 50 pages too long and overstays for just that long to make you feel uneasy and things start to get monotonous. The portions where Ishigami and his school friend Yukawa from college starts getting into solving mathematical problems and arguments are over written and have a laboured feel to them.
I am going with 4/5 for Keigo Higashino's 'The devotion of Suspect X'. Do anything, but suspect the quality of the book. It is a thriller waiting to be read, right there. It is one of the most intelligent books you will read in a long time. Go and grab it, NOW!
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