The Devotion of Suspect X

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Translator: Alexander Smith
Page: 298
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books (St. Martin's Press)
Pub. Date: February 1, 2011 (translation; original Japanese in 2005)

This was a different kind of read for me. I picked it up spontaneously during a trip to Borders without ever having heard anything about it. Then when I got home my hubby mentioned he saw it on Barnes & Noble's Best of February list. So I thought... good! Sounds promising!

I spent most of this read wondering where it was going and if it really was going to be as simple as it seemed. The types of things I said to myself while reading this included, "this is like mystery/crime 101" and "is the mystery genre new to the Japanese?" It started out with a woman, Yasuko Hanaoka, who kills her abusive ex-husband after he unexpectedly shows up at her house. Yasuko's neighbor, Ishigani, happens to be a genius mathematician who is in loooove with our Yasuko. So he comes to the rescue to help her hide the crime. He uses his logistical smarts to come up with a foolproof alibi. Yasuko and her daughter, Misato, meanwhile do everything he says without really understanding why. All they know is that they best do whatever he says.

But complications arise when an old peer of Ishigani's, Manabu Yukawa, shows up. Probably the only person who can match Ishigani in intellectual ability, he starts to unravel Ishigani's formerly solid alibi. And an old client of Yasuko's, Kudo, also ends up in the picture and ends up leaving Yasuko feeling ambivalent, unsure if showing Kudo affection will cause Ishigani to stop protecting her. Ultimately, we learn exactly what lengths Ishigani will go to protect his beloved Yasuko.

I wish I had known a little more about the story before reading it (which is unusual because I typically like to know less). But I think if I had known more, I may have enjoyed the read more along the way. That's why I sort of included more in my synopsis here than I normally would. Because I was unclear about the direction of the novel, I felt a little frustrated at first. Once I realized the story was about this alibi and Ishigani's love for Yasuko, it started to make more sense and was enjoyable. The different names was difficult to get used to at first, but once I got used to them I found them less distracting. (I love saying their names out loud because they sound so pretty, lol!) And at first I felt the structure of the sentences was so simple that I didn't think I could get into it... sort of felt like reading a children's book. I don't know if this was something that happened in translation or if the original writing was like that. I pretty much forgot about it after a while, though. And then the ending was great. There was a twist that was placed well in the story and made the whole read worthwhile. The more I think about it the more I like how it turned out after all.

In all, not quite the amazement I expected but a really good read anyway.


Zibilee said...

I am not sure that I would like this book based on your description of it, and I am really glad to have seen this review, because I have heard this book mentioned in passing many times. Though it wasn't what you were expecting, I am glad that you enjoyed it!

Tina said...

Ive never heard of this sounds confusing, all those names might lead to a headache....but I liked your review and I cant wait to see what you thought about Sing You Home...:D

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