Title: The Devotion of Suspect X

Author: Keigo Higashino (Translated by Alexander Smith with Elye Alexander)

ISBN: 0312375069

‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ is one of the most acclaimed works of Keigo Higashino with more than 2 million copies sold. The novel has also been made in a movie Suspect X.

The book is a murder thriller and is built around a fast paced plot. Japanese style of writing can be fully enjoyed with interesting to the point plots, fast paced story-line, surprises built in the story making to eager to turn the next page. Some characters have been shown to decipher too much from too little facts but I guess all murder thrillers needs at-least one mastermind to plot the murder and one to break the code.

The story revolves around four main characters -

1. Yasuko: Portrayed as the lead character who, along with her daughter Misato, murders her ex-husband Togashi

2. Ishigami: The genius mathematician who plays the role of mastermind plotting the entire story

3. Kusanagi: Detective who is involved in solving the case

4. Yukawa: Physicist, another genius, friend of both Kusanagi and Ishigami. He plays a vital role in determining how the story unfolds

The story starts on a fast-track mode with author clearly establishing Yasuko’s history as a divorcee mother and Ishigami’s secret love for her. Yasuko’s ex-husband shows up to again torture her and extract money. The mother-daughter duo snaps and this is where the murder happens. Fast but messy. Here is where the genius mathematician steps in to help the love of her life. The plot looks very dramatic as Ishigami, though a neighbor of Yasuko, has never really held a conversation with her. Yasuko, it seems out of fear and no way out, accepts Ishigami’s help.

While the story on a virtual plane revolves around Yasuko, the center or lead character appears to be Ishigami around which all characters revolve; or to simply put the beauty of author, Ishigami makes them revolve by his perfect game plan. While Ishigami is the one who plots the way the police can never suspect Yasuko, it is Kusanagi and Yukawa who unravel the whole story and keep the reader hooked on to the book. Ishigami plots a masterful, devious and methodical scheme to fool not only the police but also the reader’s in thinking in a tangentially different direction if they try to determine what’s happening next. Without giving spoilers for the book, reader has to extreme attention to details to understand the real motive. The chase of Kusanagi to find the killer seems futile at every moment and pretty much enjoyed by Ishigami who seems to have pre-meditated everything except one factor – his old friend Yukawa who matches his genius. It is he who ends of breaking the code only to learn that the web to protect Yasuko built by Ishigami was much more complex than he could ever imagine. The real suspect – Suspect X was Ishigami, who devoted his life to save Yasuko.

The story-line in this book is superbly crafted and is a wonderful,  recommended read if you like murder mystery books which keep you hooked on till the last. If while reading the book, you feel that the case is like a mathematical problem with clues thrown around for the reader to figure out, then you are not very far away from the truth ! :)

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