The devotion of suspect X is a Japanese mystery novel written by Keigo Higashino. It is part of a series of novels about Manabu Yukawa also known to friends as Detective Galileo, a physics professor helping police to solve crimes in his free time. In this novel he meets his match in his old college friend Ishigami, who inspite of his superior intelligence, chose to live a life of solitude as a Maths teacher away from all the fame and glory associated with Academics.
This book is actually the only book that I read in last three months. And I feel it was a reasonably good book for a comeback to reading habit. As I mentioned before, this is a mystery novel and what makes it different from other mystery novels is that in first pages itself the crime and culprits are revealed with all details. So it won’t be a spoiler if I mention that Yasuka Hanakoa, a single mother living with her daughter, Misato, kills her ex husband Shinji Togashi, when he stalk her and get violent. Misato assists her in the crime. Ishigami, who lives next door offers to help her in removing the dark stains of murder from her and her daughter. Detective Kusanagi comes to a dead end with the investigation when he seeks the help of Yukawa in solving the puzzle. Yukawa turns out to be an old friend of Ishigami and tries to rekindle the friendship. And then starts a battle of wits, a cat and mouse game using the grey cells in the brain.
The crime in itself is quite simple and straight forward. What make the novel interesting are the characterization and the twist ending. It is like watching Manoj N Shyamalan’s movie The Sixth Sense. You feel while watching the movie that it is just a very ordinary film but the ending changes your whole perception. Then you watch the movie again or the clues you missed in first viewing. Devotion of Suspect X is also a similar attempt. The writing style is very subtle and calm on outside, just like the mind of its protagonists. But the slow building up of tension keeps up the interest of the reader. As I have told before the characterization of the two main characters is what takes an otherwise ordinary story to a different level. Ishigami and Yukawa are etched in the minds of readers firmly even after keeping the book down.
On the flip side, other characters, even the most important ones, are not well developed. We never feel much about the single mom or her daughter, even when they are in deep trouble. The character of Detective Kusanagi is another disappointment about the book. There are some times when we feel that there is something more about this guy than what we read about him in the novel. But nothing is explored in that direction. (May be these are the problems of translation. Unfortunately I will never know.)
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