The Devotion of Suspect X sold over two million copies in its native Japan alone and has become a national obsession, even inspired a cult film based on the book. It is now being translated into various languages and distributed around the world. But does it manage to live up to the hype?
Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Translator: Alexander O. Smith
Publisher: Little, Brown
Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child, Misato. But when her ex-husband, Togashi, appears at her door without warning one evening her comfortable world is shattered.
A struggle ensues and Togashi is killed in Yasuko’s flat. For some strange reason her neighbour, Ishigami, comes to her aid and helps to dispose of the body. Things get stranger when he also coaches Yasuko and Misato as to what to say to the police. Ishigami seems to have contingencies for just about every situation that might arise.
We also find out that Ishigami is a maths genius and through his deductive skills, set up a story that the police would/could not unravel. Through this story he tries to protect Yasuko, whom it seems he has more than just a fascination with.
When detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of the night, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense, and it will take a genius to understand the mastermind behind this particular crime.
This book is a very solid, but overly long thriller. The Devotion of Suspect X starts off with the accidental murder of Yasuko’s ex-husband and then after drags its feet through the investigation of the murder. Things get repeated and the actual investigation and questions asked aren’t that involving or exciting. It all feels very routine and although some important information is given every now and then, it could have been done in a more concise way.
The copy I have is 373 pages long and I felt that this could easily have been condensed to fewer than 300 pages without losing the core of the story. The book gets a bit convoluted with extra characters that get way too much time and bring very little to the plot. In fact, some characters like, Kudo stem the flow of the story a bit. The Yakawa character that is introduced, feels very contrived, as he seems to be the yin to Ishigami’s yan. The light to the other’s dark. He also just happens to be a genius in his field of study and detective Kusanagi likes to bounce theories of cases off of him.
The book does conclude with one of the most unexpected and brilliant twists I have ever read. The end caught me off guard and left my reeling in its brilliance. Even knowing that it ends with a shock-twist, you’d still not see this one coming. It’s that good!
Overall the The Devotion of Suspect X is a good experience, a solid thriller with a shocking twist. This is a great way to experience some Eastern culture in a good fiction novel.