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Tag: keigo higashino

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Summary: The book opens as Ayane, a beautiful young patchwork-artist decides to kill her husband Yoshitaka Mashiba. He is about to leave her as she cannot get pregnant, and that is the only reason he got married in the first place – to have a child. He already has a new girl in mind who could father his baby, and she happens to be Ayane’s favourite student Hiromi. Ayane doesn’t object to the break-up, but does escape to her parents’ place for a few days, seemingly to calm herself down. In the meanwhile, Hiromi and Yoshitaka meet up and make plans. On the next day, when Hiromi shows up at Yoshitaka’s house for a dinner date with her lover, she finds him on the floor, dead, poisoned. It is up to Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi and his assistant Utsumi, who enlists the help of genius physics professor Dr. Yukawa, to solve the mystery.

My thoughts: If you ask anyone, what a good crime novel is all about, they say it’s a book that keep you guessing. There are different ways of keeping a howdunit / whydunit like this one mysterious, and Higashino somehow doesn’t get them – in neither his previous book The Devotion of Suspect X, which was quite a phenomenon nor Salvation of a Saint. We already know who did the crime and as the book progresses we watch the police and detectives try to figure it out, trying ourselves to figure how Ayane committed the murder and why. The investigation goes around in loops; junior detective Utsumi suspects Ayane, but couldn’t tell you why and Kusanagi, our hero, seems to have fallen for the beautiful widow. For the first hundred pages of the book, it is impossible to guess just what might have happened – the reason being, nothing new really comes up – the same conversations with the same few suspects, minutely detailed descriptions of feelings and analyses and different perspectives on the same thing. The investigation becomes a drag (although I rather believe real-life investigations would be just as repetitive and unlike the fast-paced action most books provide.) The detectives’ constant state of being confused forms a major part of the book. And just when, somewhere in the middle, the writer lets slip the first obvious clue of why the crime could have happened, figuring out the whole reason is a piece of cake. Infinitely easy. So, I could guess the whydunit there and then and that part of the mystery was lost. Then came the howdunit. You know the man was poisoned, you know, from the prologue, that a bag of white powder was somehow involved in the crime. You couldn’t possibly figure out the method used to poison, but when you know who and why, does ‘how’ really matter? Enough to read half a book? If it does, well, let me tell you, I could vaguely guess what must have happened forty pages before it was revealed, or could at least guess the components involved in arranging that crime (let’s put it that way, if we want to avoid spoilers.) And when I did find out the whole truth it wasn’t as ingenious as I would have liked it to be – in fact, it was kind of ludicrous (and also kind of moot, which you’d understand if you’ve read the book; tragic how Ayane went through so much only to be caught.)

If a good crime novel really is one that keeps you guessing, this isn’t it. But I think people put too much weight on suspense. For me, a good book is so much more than “What happened? What happened? What happened? Oh! THAT happened! Wow.”

The book deals with many social issues; you almost relate to the killer, which is saying something. There is no definite bad guy, just a string of unfortunate situations and behaviour that spiraled off to a murder. It makes you wonder how sordid the world has become, how biased and superficial our actions and emotions are, how helpless we often feel and how blurred the line between right and wrong is. The motive for the murder is just typical enough to be believable, the characters are really fleshed out. Ironically, I could connect to them better, because they were almost irreparably selfish and flawed.

(By the way, good work by the translator as well, the words flow in a way that makes it hard to believe it’s a translation – as I remember, The Devotion of Suspect X was a bit clumsy: which is odd, considering it’s the same translator.)

Like I said, if you’re looking for a fact-paced thriller, surprising, crime mystery novel thing, this is probably not it. You would probably enjoy The Devotion of Suspect X a lot more. But if you want a good book, one that lingers on your mind long after you’ve finished reading it, I would suggest you go ahead and read this one. I certainly liked the book.

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The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

I received this book in exchange for an honest review through Blogadda.

The Devotion of Suspect X is a Japanese crime thriller first published in 2005. It is the third and the most acclaimed book in Keigo Higashino’s Galileo series. The first two chapters tell us, the readers, of the murder that is committed by single mother Yasuko Hanaoka and the cover-up designed by her strange and mysterious neighbour, a genius mathematician called Tetsuya Ishigami. The murder has the police completely puzzled. And it is upto detective Kunasagi, assisted by physicist Manabu Yuwaka (Galileo) to figure out just what happened.

(What I liked) Usually, twist endings in crime novels leave me thinking; “What!! Did that just happen?”. They almost always make me wonder if the writer just got tired of coming up with a decent ending. It’s safe to say, that there are very few unexpected turns of events that I actually like. But this one was one of those few. As a reader, you are an observer of a story, which is carefully veiled. The veil is lifted slightly every so often, but never quite so much that you know exactly what is happening. The author does a great job of maintaining the suspense, of not letting on too much, without making you impatient. Every page gives a little more information, and every page creates a new question.

This was also one of the few psychological thrillers I have read, where the hero isn’t suffering from an actual mental disorder. And yet, it was also the most thrilling, in that respect. I know people who don’t like mysteries/crime novels because you don’t get anything valuable out of them. I disagree, because the biggest reason I read is to just get lost in a new kind of world. But this book had a lot more to offer than just that. It was highly unrealistic in many places, but at the same time, it said something about human nature that is uncannily real. I couldn’t tell you that without disclosing the best parts of the book, so let me just leave it at this; the book has the most apt title! Plot-wise, I think The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino was really quite fabulous.

That being said, I did not exactly love the book.

(What I did not like) Firstly, let me just say, I might have enjoyed this book a tad bit more, if I could have read the original. It was obvious in many places, that this was a translation. The sentence construction was awkward. Another thing I did not like was that it seemed too much like an unrealistic and cheesy detective movie. Crime fiction is so vast a genre, and has seen so many bests over the years, that it must be hard to write something that would count as different. The scenes were repetitive and it seemed to me, as if I was viewing a combination of all the crime dramas there on TV these days.
Which brings me to the next thing; the book read like a movie script at times; and that, according to me, is the worst thing when it comes to a thriller.
It was also kind of weird, how the writer kept explaining every thing over and over again, from the different perspectives of all the different characters. It was almost as if he assumed the readers were too stupid to figure things out on their own.
The characters had the potential to be much better than they actually were; much more developed. But somehow I kept thinking that the author was juggling a lot more characters and viewpoints than he should have been.

It’s not the worst book I’ve read, but it’s certainly not the best. I would recommend people to read this book, for all the good parts. But I would like to remind you, 2 million people might even be wrong; Twilight taught us that!

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