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April 26, 2013

Book Review - 123 : Salvation of a Saint





Author : Keigo Higashino
Publisher : Hachette (In India)
Translated by : Alexander O. Smith

There’s an extramarital affair followed by a dead body. Suave ladies’ man, Yoshitaka Mashiba, is found dead with a cup of spilled coffee next to him with traces of poison in it. His distraught mistress finds his body in his upmarket Tokyo home. Nothing suggests a forced entry and he was alone at the time of death. Was this a suicide or the perfect crime?

The mistress has a perfect alibi so the most logical suspect and the one person with a motive is Yoshitaka’s mysterious and beautiful wife Ayane. But she was visiting her parents in Hokkaido, hundreds of miles away from Tokyo. So she's out. Or is she? Things turn interesting when Kusangi, the prime detective on the case is seen falling for Ayane and develops a soft corner. Their interaction forms a key aspect in solving the crime as the detective have to overcome his personal bias towards the prospective killer.

Enter Manabu Yukawa, a physics professor who has an uncanny knack for solving crimes – Yukawa (very) slowly closes off all possible avenues of investigation before uncovering the startling truth. Helping them this time is feisty detective Utsumi who is not shy of having put her foot down with Kusangi. Conversations and conflicts between them becomes interesting and refreshingly provides a fresh female point of view on the investigation.


Those who loved author's last outing as a novelist are bound to find a similar kind of sustenance and should be excited with yet another perfect crime wrapped with grilling investigation sessions and mental games. In the end, it is not whodunit murder mystery but how the murderer has accomplished the crime which builds the core part of the narrative. It is always difficult to follow up a landmark book and this case is no exception.

Inherently Sherlock Holmes in its structure and style, the book is fast paced and requires complete attention. Obviously as a reader, you need to get acquired by Japanese names and come over every character's obsession with tea and coffee. The characters complement each other and bounce off ideas in order to reach the right conclusion about how the murder is committed and for the most part, becomes the talking point of conversation. The final conclusion do feel forced and certain loose threads does not culminate well but you are ready to take that on the chin for most of the cases. However, if you have not read is previous works, this one should be really adored.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Keigo Higashino 'Salvation of a Saint'. It is not as perfect as author's last novel, 'The Devotion of suspect X' but judging on an individual basis, it is yet another watertight, perfect crime thriller which will keep you hooked till the end. though you wish it was a little shorter and had more meat. 

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