Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
June 20, 2012 14 Comments
It was my birthday and I went shopping in Amsterdam, targeting the English book shops with a friend. It was hard to restrain myself but I got 3 books and this was one of them. I’d read reviews by other bloggers for this book and I was curious!
I’m glad I bought it as I enjoyed it a lot! The beginning reminded me somewhat of Out by Natsuo Kirino, but later on, the book was quite different.
The Devotion of Suspect X: What it is about
From the back of the book: “Yasuko lives a quiet life, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one evening, her comfortable world is shattered.
When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that night, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense.”
The Devotion of Suspect X: What I thought
What the description above doesn’t mention, is that Yasuko and her teenage daughter Misato kill the ex-husband. Although I do not generally cheer at the killing of people, given the circumstances of this case, let’s say, it seemed almost justifiable for them to do this.
Their neighbour, Ishigami, hears the commotion and comes to check up on Yasuko. Ishigami is a high school Maths teacher who keeps to himself but buys lunch at the bento shop where Yasuko works, every day. It seems he’s infatuated with her, but she’s never given him a second thought.
Ishigami tells Yasuko he will help her hide the body and she and Misato are to get themselves alibis so they won’t be suspected of the murder. And a day later, the police find the body of the ex-husband near some factory works, with a bicycle nearby. There are certain mysterious circumstances, but soon they find out who the body is.
Very soon after, the police come after Yasuko, who denies having seen her ex. Strangely enough, the police seem to focus mainly on Yasuko and people around her. While she hasn’t seen her ex for several years (she claims), they keep coming back for more information about her alibi. I thought this was a bit weak, it would have been more life-like if they had also investigated one or two other people from the ex-husband’s current circle.
A friend of police detective Kusanagi, scientist Yukawa, who often helps with investigations, discovers that neighbour Ishigami is an old study friend of his, so he goes to visit him and they end up talking to each other a few times. Their conversations are interesting – it turns out both are very clever people. Together they discuss the murder case and while Yukawa isn’t thinking in the right direction to be able to solve the murder, Isigami is getting a bit nervous about Yukawa’s deductive powers.
The book ends very differently from what I expected but it was very interesting to find out why Ishigami had set up the crime scene the way he did. The only thing I didn’t like is what happened to Yasuko, the ex-wife. This could have been left out, it was rather cruel (to Ishigami).
There were some philosophical-like discussions (between Ishigami and Yukawa) about problem solving which I enjoyed and this also plays a role in the solution of the murder case.
In all, I loved this book.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I got this book: for my birthday, a treat for myself
Number of pages: 440
First published: 2005 (original Japanese: Yogisha X No Kenshin)