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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars scholarly police procedural
Be prepared to get sucked into this new thriller from Keigo Higashino. While he's already a big name in Japan, this is his first book translated into English. It's best called a police procedural rather than just a crime novel, because every little detail Higashino includes has a point in the story. What's most unique is as soon as you begin, the murder of a man occurs,...
Published on 5 Feb 2011 by Amy Henry

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Clumsy, obvious. Disappointing read.
Maybe I don't get it? I read some gushing reviews here and was expecting a very clever, subtle and intriguing mystery. But this read like it was written by a 12 year old. The characters acted like wooden puppets, suddenly doing whatever was needed to advance the somewhat obvious plot.

First example: the victim literally jumps atop the main character's daughter...
Published 3 months ago by Michael Mathews


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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars scholarly police procedural, 5 Feb 2011
By 
Amy Henry (United States) - See all my reviews
Be prepared to get sucked into this new thriller from Keigo Higashino. While he's already a big name in Japan, this is his first book translated into English. It's best called a police procedural rather than just a crime novel, because every little detail Higashino includes has a point in the story. What's most unique is as soon as you begin, the murder of a man occurs, and you know exactly who did it. Straight up, it's right there, demanding you pay attention!

The mystery of the novel comes into play as the crime is investigated by the police force as well as two academics, one a physicist and the other a mathematician, both former competitors who are eager to prove their superiority to each other as well as the police detectives that they look down upon. Nothing plays out as ordinary, although the characters can be considered regular people. Rather than an all-seeing Hercule Poirot type of solution, the novel is instead about observation of facts and the interpretation of the tiniest details. Because of the amount of intricate details, sometimes the narrative slows down. In fact, at a few points, you may even be distracted and feel as if you are balancing your checkbook. Yet that's the trick Higasino plays: the monotonous details are the most revealing and ultimately solve the crime.

In addition to the mystery, the author builds credible characters, and makes their motives always remain a bit unclear. At times, while knowing `whodunit', I still found myself questioning what I already knew, and wondering how much I assumed. Seeing a snapshot of the life of middle-class Japan, with its emphasis on decorum, routine, and reputation, makes a cryptic setting for the murder and its repercussions.

Two factors bear mentioning: one, despite the complexity, the pace of the novel is subtle and quiet. This isn't an episode of CSI; there are no car chases or explosions. An intellectual challenge for the reader, it's as quiet as a crossword puzzle and much more complicated. Additionally, despite the initial murder (it was a bad guy, after all), there is no gore or expletives. None of the skin-crawling vulgarity or horrific crime scenes that some crime novels rely on appear in this story. To be honest, this is a classy crime novel, and I hope more of the series is translated into English, soon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Logic vs. Gut, 16 July 2011
By 
Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Cleverly pitting the logic of a mathematician against that of a physicist, and then the physicist vs. an intuition-leaning detective, this Japanese novelist has written a clever murder mystery with an innovative ending.

There is no mystery as to the murderer: A single mother, aided by her daughter, strangles her abusive ex-husband. What then follows provides us with a chess match between her next door neighbor, a mathematician, who undertakes to create a scenario to provide the two women with iron-clad alibis, and a detective and his logic-leaning physicist friend, who analyzes each possible clue. It is an interesting technique, and one that works well.

This is the author's first major English publication (he is a big seller in Japan, where more than 2 million copies of the book have been sold), and the translation seems to have been made with the formality of the original language in mind. "Devotion" won the Naoki Prize for Best Novel, the Japanese equivalent of the National Book Award. Deservedly. And it is, here, heartily recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Only if you can prove that there are no legitimate answers other than the one offered, can you say this is the only solution.", 28 Feb 2012
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Mathematical genius Tetsuya Ishigami and his equally brilliant friend Manabu Yukawa, from the physics department at Imperial University in Tokyo, are at the heart of Keigo Higashino's complex and satisfying murder mystery from Japan. From the outset the reader knows who has killed a loathsome and terrifying bully; the big question is whether or not the person will ever be caught. When Tetsuya Ishigami overhears a commotion taking place in the apartment next door, he offers to help, and as he likes the woman and her daughter who live there, he provides a seemingly airtight alibi for them when he sees a crime has been committed. Police Det. Kusanagi, who investigates, feels that something is not quite right, however, something he discusses when he visits the physics professor, Yukawa, his long-time friend. Yukawa often offers friendly lessons in pure deductive reasoning and provides logical direction for Kusanagi and the police.

Yukawa has also known Ishigami since they were students at the Imperial University. On a visit to Ishigami's apartment after the murder, they begin to chat, and Yukawa sums up the basic problem of the murder investigation: that investigators have been fooled by the criminals' camouflage. Most criminals, he believes, make their alibis complex and increase the chances that they will betray themselves. The genius keeps things simple, acting in ways "no normal person" would think of doing, thereby ironically increasing the complexity for the police.

The chess-like maneuvering between the two geniuses - Yukawa and Ichigami - greatly resembles that of Sherlock Holmes and Prof. Moriarty, even to its clipped dialogue, but this novel has a love interest to keep things more realistic and more fun. The reader develops some empathy for Ishigami and for the hard life that prevented him from pursuing his doctorate, along with his pathetic shyness, his unattractive appearance, and his lack of communication skills. The remainder of the characters, however, are flat, and while some, like Prof. Yukawa, are not exactly "typical," in that few mysteries feature characters with his level of brilliance, he is not a character one comes to know.

An unusual "police procedural" in that the police seem to be free to follow their own instincts with little interference from their superiors, The Devotion of Suspect X works its way up to a surprising climax and resolution, one which few will expect, proving exactly what Yukawa has said all along, that the genius will do something that no normal person will ever think of doing. Clever and unusual, this novel is a step above the traditional mystery in its concept, execution, and logical underpinnings, a welcome addition to the genre. The carefully composed details and slow unraveling of the action keep the reader thinking on more than one plane - not just about whether the killer or killers will get away with the murder of a person who is no real loss to society, but about the interactions of human beings and the discovery of what is real, as opposed to camouflage. Mary Whipple
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Clumsy, obvious. Disappointing read., 14 Sep 2014
By 
Michael Mathews (Worcestershire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Devotion Of Suspect X (Paperback)
Maybe I don't get it? I read some gushing reviews here and was expecting a very clever, subtle and intriguing mystery. But this read like it was written by a 12 year old. The characters acted like wooden puppets, suddenly doing whatever was needed to advance the somewhat obvious plot.

First example: the victim literally jumps atop the main character's daughter and, while violently attacking her, threatens to kill her. Why? Because the daughter hit the victim? Why? Never explained. For some reason the victim was very menacing to the daughter. Why? Not explained. Maybe there was some sexual abuse involved, but who knows, the author doesn't bother to say. The victim just inexplicably menaces the daughter, who then just inexplicably hits the victim, who then just violently attacks the daughter. All this leads to the obvious reaction of the mother to jump in and try to save her daughter's life. Which obviously she does. And at the end the victim is dead or dying on the floor. A very clear case of self-defense, justifiable manslaughter at worst. But they then just inexplicably decide to not call the police, or ambulance, or do anything that would be in character for a family who had been violently attacked in their home and managed to survive in the only way possible. Nope, instead they, seeming aware they are in a mystery novel, decide instead to create a murder puzzle for the police to spend 12 chapters solving. And every one of those chapters is just as clumsily crafted, with one convenient but inexplicable coincidence building on another all the way through.

Very ham-handed attempt at a mystery novel on my opinion. But, as I said, maybe I don't get it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Measured and Gripping, 19 April 2012
By 
Amazon Customer - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Devotion Of Suspect X (Paperback)
Crime novels frequently trade in emotions and impulses we regard as malevolent: jealousy, greed, hatred, or just plain insanity. The Devotion of Subject X is different - it's about fidelity and adoration in their purest, most dangerous form.

I was gripped from the start. Higashino pulls off the neat trick of creating an antagonist that the reader can almost root for, yet still imbue them with enough menace to also hope the detectives succeed in their chase.

This is a quiet novel. The cast list is small. There's little to no travel. There aren't any thrilling chases or gunfights. As I was reading it, I was, inevitably, reminded of another great Japanese detective novel I read: Inspector Imanishi investigates. There's a similar old fashioned dedication to logic on the part of the crime solvers, and a similar lack of hyperbolic action.

This leaves room for the characters' thoughts and motivations and breathe, and there are scenes with real emotional weight to complement the pleasure of unravelling the mystery.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime procedural with hidden depths, 7 April 2011
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
**This review covers the initial premise of the crime in the book, but there are, I believe, no spoilers.**

On the surface, The Devotion of Suspect X is a fairly conventional crime story of the Columbo type, where there is no mystery about the killer or their motivations, the intrigue rather being around the murderer's efforts to cover-up their crime, remove any evidence that can be traced back to them and keep the inquisitive police detectives from breaking down their alibi. It seems pretty much like a standard case of a battle of wits then, but there are a few interesting twists and unique characteristics in Keigo Higashino's carefully plotted novel.

Rather than it being the usual clever criminal arrogantly thinking they can get away with a murder, the case here is a little more involved. The murder that is covered-up at the very start of the book is not premeditated or indeed intended, but comes about rather when Yasuko Hanaoka, a former bar hostess, is protecting her daughter from her ex-husband Toshigo. The trouble starts when Yasuko, encouraged by neighbour Ishigami, agrees to let him cover the killing up for her. It is Ishigami who is the bright and intelligent criminal, a brilliant mathematician who believes he can outwit the police and use their own procedural methods against them to lead them off the trail. The police however have recourse to their own consulting scientific genius, one moreover who went to university with Ishigami and knows something of how his mind works.

Even with an intriguing set-up and strong characterisation, The Devotion of Suspect X itself would still seem to be a crime novel that follows a fairly well-trodden path, and it's one that would seem to be unlikely to throw up any real surprises. It's well written, methodically working its way through the investigation, and the characters are interesting enough to keep one guessing how they will make the leap to the next stage, where the outcome seems pretty much inevitable. There are however a few other outside factors and a more deeply plotted element that makes the story a little less predictable, and that of course is the human element in the equation.

As careful and methodically scientific as the opposing sides in the battle of wits are, this factor can never be entirely accounted for, and it's the specifically Japanese nature of there being rather more complicated impulses going on beneath the surface that give the novel its own character. I don't think it's quite enough to distinguish the novel from similar good, tightly-plotted crime fiction of this type - and the book itself could be accused of making the same mistake as its protagonist by being just a little too neat in its adhering to a scientific crime formula - but as it is, The Devotion of Suspect X manages nonetheless to be a constantly intriguing, intelligent, involving and satisfying crime novel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and clever, 30 Nov 2011
By 
Boof (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
What a strange yet strangely appealing book from this Japanese author, Keigo Higashino. I have read several novels by Japanese authors over the years and they have all had similar styles in that they have been sparsely written with barely a word wasted, yet they have all packed an almighty punch (without even trying it somehow seems). The Devotion of Suspect X is a clever crime book. There is a murder but no blood and gutts, a crime but no evidence. The killing takes place in the first few pages of the book and we all know straight away who did it: what happens immediately afterwards is what keeps the reader on their toes.

The story is centred around Yasuko, a single mum who works in a lunch-box shop and whos unsavoury ex-husband tries to worm his way back into her life. Within pages, said ex-husband is dead and entering from stage left is strange nextdoor neighbour Ishigami, who is a genius mathemetician with rather a large crush on Ysasuko. On the case of the body dumped in an oil drum by the river is Tokyo Detective Kusangi who vents his frustrations about the case to friend Yukawa who happens to be a genius physician and whom knew Ishigami at University. What follows is clash of the geniuses: not in an action-packed, race-against-time way, but more like a battle of brains over a quiet game of chess. While this was a great way to help the reader unravel what happened, I have to admit that about ¾ of the way through the book I started to become a little bored with the perpetual cat-and-mouse game between Yukawa and Ishigami: I remember sighing and uttering "get on with it" at one point. However, not long after I was rewarded with an almighty wollop at the end that I didn't see coming. And then, just as I'd relaxed again, I was left staring at an ending that made my mouth go into this shape..... O

Verdict: Quirky, surprising and rewarding
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intelligent and Compelling Read, 18 Oct 2012
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Much of what I read in what could broadly be described as crime and detection type novels is instantly forgettable. That is not to say that such a book is not enjoyable to read, but there is really nothing about it which sticks in the mind once you have finished it. However, The Devotion of Suspect X is a clever, well thought out novel and it has something about it which places it well above this level.

Broadly the story concerns a murder and subsequent cover up, and there is absolutely no mystery as to who the perpetrator is. However, one of the parties involved is a very clever man, Ishigami, arguably at a genius level of intellect. He treats the concealment of the crime as a puzzle in logic, and applies his intellect in creating a situation which will mislead the police and which they will find impossible to crack. Also involved on the police side is a former friend and colleague of Ishigami, also highly intelligent, who proves to be a formidable adversary.

I liked the style of this tale. There is none of the waffle and unnecessary verbiage which authors often feel obliged to pad out their offerings with, and everything in this book is absolutely relevant to the story which is being related. There are many quite small incidents and observations which prove to have immense importance later. On the front of the latest edition of this book is printed `The Japanese Stieg Larsson' which is apparently a quote from the Times. I would say this book is absolutely nothing like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy except that it is broadly of the same genre. In fact to make this comparison is quite unfair on the author, who has come up with an entertaining and compelling story which most of his readers will thoroughly enjoy.

After the first 20 pages or so I was certainly hooked and the outcome is not clear until right at the end so that the reader's interest is maintained throughout. This is a unique and intelligent read. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devotion of Suspect X, 8 Sep 2011
By 
Champollion (Shropshire) - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Occasionally, a crime novel appears and it stands out from the crowd. The Devotion of Suspect X, is that book. This is definitely not a run of the mill or par for the course type thriller. It is a silky smooth cerebral plot. A literary game of chess.

It is expertly and supremely crafted, with clues left in discreet places, believable characters that draw you in right from the start, and a story that keeps the suspense going right to the end.

If you were to give it a label - it would be police procedural - but it is a good deal more than that. It is a book that makes you think and it is a rewarding experience.

The framework of the plot seems simple enough, but do not be fooled by that. Although you know from early on, who did it and how, you are gripped and you will be turning the pages. Yasuko, a single mother, who lives a quiet existence with her daughter Misato and works in a shop is involved in a confrontation with Togashi, her brutal ex-husband. Enter her neighbour Ishigami, a mathematician,(who has a romantic interest in Yasuko,) and he devises an ingenious plan to cover things up.

Detective Kusangi is assigned to the case, but begins to quickly realise that solving this crime is far from easy. Even as he treads closer to revealing the truth, Ishigami will do anything to protect Yasuko.

The pace of the novel will keep you going, as will the cleverness of the plot. It is easy to see why it is a big seller and won awards in Japan. It is certainly one book I could read again and I recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cleverly Written Crime Mystery, 15 Aug 2011
By 
Mr. A. L. Cooper "drunken_munkey" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Summary:

A single mother and her only daughter are living happy, care-free lives, going about their daily business at work and school. An unexpected visitor turns up at the mother's work- her aggressive and forceful ex-husband whom she had been away from for years. One thing leads to another as he continues to shrug off her attempts to get rid of him, and he is killed. A quiet but seemingly friendly neighbor and brilliant mathematician comes to the aid of the single mother by offering to cover up the murder and help her and her daughter resume their happy lives. The mathematician spins an incredible maze of false clues and dead-end leads, making the case a near uncrack-able puzzle. However, a detective and his friend- a gifted physicist are highly suspicious and work together to try to unravel the tangled web of deceit- and truth.

As you've probably guessed from the title of the book, this is a crime-fiction novel written by a Japanese author- Keigo Higashino. And, well, what can I say... After finishing the book over the course of a week, I immediately want to see what else this author has written. Since others have given this book pretty thorough reviews on the story's contents, I'll focus a bit more on the style of writing and what it meant to me as a reader.

Crime-fiction novels can be very boring. The recipe sounds simple enough: present to the reader one case where a crime has been committed, allow the reader time to formulate assumptions and ideas about the possible outcome, and then throw back at the reader a totally different scenario that'll amaze and astound and occasionally make the reader whisper to themselves: "No way". Yet, so many crime-fiction books out there have so much conjecture and useless banter in them that they're a real slog to get through.

That's where this book absolutely blows a lot of other crime-fiction novels out of the water. Nothing feels as though it's written without a purpose here- everything feels like it's been written to contribute towards the story as a whole. Even conversations between characters that seem a little out-of-place have a meaning and genuinely make sense later on. It all comes together with a startling and unpredictable conclusion.

The story itself is masterfully composed. One paragraph you're reading in the perspective of the detective, the next in the perspective of the single mother, then in the perspective of the mathematician, and so on. It sounds chaotic, but you hardly notice the shifts. Every main character has an intriguing viewpoint and you get to hear them all first-hand. I love this style of writing.

One very clever thing the author has done with this story is left gaps. Sometimes they're gaping holes; sometimes they hardly seem worth paying attention to. He doesn't just lay it all out in a neat line for you to read about and follow blindly, he wants you to keep guessing and keep thinking about the solution. Don't worry though; the author addresses every gap he's left in such a graceful and tactful way that you'll be amazed by the result. All I can say is... I didn't see that coming.

In short, this is a spectacular novel and I can't urge you enough to read it. I've been recommending this to all my friends whether they like crime fiction stories or not. I would say "If you like crime-fiction, you'll love this", but honestly this isn't your average crime-fic, this really is what other books of all genres should aspire to be like: deep, easy to digest and thoroughly rewarding to read.

So here's my final recommendation: If you like novels that actually suck you in and won't escape your thoughts, buy this.

Pick up a copy and discover this absolute gem of a story. You won't regret it.
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The Devotion Of Suspect X
The Devotion Of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (Paperback - 2 Feb 2012)
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