Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

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)

Genre: mystery

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

14 Responses to Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

  1. I Keep meaning to read this novel, but somehow other ones keep getting in the way and I still have not got round to it. It sounds like a good holidays read, so maybe I ought to save it for my upcoming trip to the Far East, what with the book being set in Japan.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Anna, it’s a bit different from other mysteries and that’s good fun. Also the discussions between the scientist and the neighbour I loved.

      It isn’t a particularly “Japanese” book, in the sense that most of the story is a story that could happen anywhere. On the other hand, the police may behave a bit different from what we’re used to. And of course there is a bento shop and other typically Japanese things.

  2. Mrs.B says:

    Sounds like I would enjoy this! Im curious since u compared the writer to Natsuo Kirino. Ive just gotten into Natsuo Kirino. Have already read all 3 books translated into English and Im so impressed.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Mrs. B. I compared this book with Kirino especially because of the similar situation: there is a body that needs to be disposed of. And then the police must not get suspicious.

      I haven’t read anything else by her. Sounds like you’re a fan!

  3. Yay! I’m so pleased you loved this one too.

  4. I enjoyed Out more. This is still a definite must read though!

  5. parrish lantern says:

    This is sat on my kindle & will read it soon & if it’s half as good as Out, it will be a great read.

  6. Laura says:

    This sounds so great! I’ve read another review of it that was also good, and then promptly forgot about it, so thanks for the reminder as well!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Laura, it’s a fun book for being quite different – at least, for me. It’s not your standard mystery. As a reader you think you have all the details, and still, it turns out the characters have been keeping information from you, and the situation is a bit different from what you thought. But I didn’t feel tricked – I felt surprised, pleasantly so.

  7. I really enjoyed this one as well – and the ending threw me too. I didn’t see it coming.

  8. JoV says:

    YAY! You love this one, I love it too. I’m glad you enjoy it! 😀

    • Leeswammes says:

      Yes, you were one of the people I remembered when thinking of getting this book. I knew you loved it and so I was quite certain I would. 🙂

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