The Devotion of Suspect X: A Tale of Two Twists....
30 January, 2014
This award winning 2005 novel by Keigo Higashino has sold over 2 million copies in Japan.
It's always a good idea (and, sometimes expensive) to try out fresh authors especially when they are from a different country.
Ekta Kapoor ( Balaji Films) is planning a film based on this novel.
After Steig Larsson's Trilogy (which had me hooked on foreign language translations) I looked forward to translated works of foreign authors.
Disappointingly, I found the works of foreign authors either inadequate or moderately readable but not unsatisfying.
This book falls in the later category.
This is not the rosy picture of Japan seen in travel magazines: we see domestic violence, fraud, loneliness, financial problems and homelessness.
The names are also, expectedly, confusing and I had to go back and flip pages trying to remember the names.
What worked for me that the murder is committed early in the book and the twist(s) come at the end.
What did not work for me for the monotonous narration but I suppose that could be due to the Japanese way of life unlike us Desis who emote at every level.
Or it could be the limitation of translation.
While the book is described as a whodunit (I would say it’s a How-done-it) it’s not a true mystery as the murder takes place in the first chapters and we are already aware of the killer’s identity.
It’s a battle of wits between two persons: a physicist and a mathematician (Suspect X) and where the book gets its title from.
There is a tug-of-war between two persons trying to out do each other on and parallels on the basis of the subject they are proficient with.
The story is simple enough.
A hard working ex-wife and her daughter accidentally kill their not-so-likable ex- husband in self defense and the crime is hidden with the help of the woman's neighbour.
After that it is a cat-and-mouse game between the policeman Kusanagi (who is no match for the physicist and the mathematician in the intellect department) and the two academics.
The rest of the story has the male characters trying to find holes in the stories of each other and the mystifying murders ( yes there is one more) convincingly explained at the end.
In India we may, perhaps, discover a common ground with the abused woman as an Indian woman will, perhaps, will behave in the same vulnerable manner.
The prose is simple enough and it is certainly recommend for crime and suspense enthusiasts for its sneaky twists (there are two of them one after the another but not in the manner you would think) at the end, the chess like vibes between the two characters which is the highlight of the book, a varied look at the squeaky clean image of Japan: and not necessarily in that order.
If you liked this book, please read Higashino’s 2008 novel “Salvation of a Saint” which is again, engrossing…
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