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3.9 out of 5 stars31
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 18 March 2014
I read this after the excellent "devotion of suspect X" by the same author. "Salvation" is not as good. Maybe because, to me anyway, the suspect and victim were initially hard to like, and mostly remained so, so it was hard to care whether the detectives catch the killer or not. The book revolves around finding how someone introduced poison into a cup of coffee. Each new theory or piece of information is discussed at length by the detectives and their pet scientist, galileo. The slightly larger cast of detectives - K now has two underlings, K2 and Y, as well as a boss M who is more involved -probably makes the Japanese tv series based on these books more sparky, as there are plenty of contrasting characters among the police to rub up against each other. However, in this book it just increases the number of permutations of two detectives having a very similar conversation about poison and coffee. After each conversation, in a total disregard for police procedure, a detective will leak any new info to one of the people under investigation. Their reaction to the piece of information will then be the subject of discussion between galileo-and-K, K-and-K2, Y-and-galileo, etc etc for another 20 pages. All the while, everyone drinks coffee. Or sometimes tea. Or sometimes instant coffee from a dirty cup. Noone develops a rational or irrational fear of coffee, except me.

After a dull middle of the book, there are some quickfire twists and reveals at the end, which do tie things together.

I loved "X" and may persevere and try another by this author.
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on 14 August 2013
I found this book very disappointing. I had no sympathy with any of the characters, the whole 'story' was not at all thrilling for me, there were no twists and it was very linear. If we had been told who committed the murder a little earlier than we had been (and I mean a little) it could easily have been an episode of Columbo, but without the excellent Columbo character. It got to the point where if I had to read the words coffee, water bottles and filter one more time I would be compelled to throw the book away. I never write book reviews (perhaps that is clear) but I feel cheated by the promise of: "Intricate and beguiling... if you like riddles inside enigmas...." (Guardian) and by being told that this extraordinary thriller will linger long in my memory (The Independent on Sunday). It may well do that, but for a different reason I think. The only positive is that I did read the book right to the end.
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I loved Keigo Higashino's breakthrough novel, The Devotion Of Suspect X. It is a taut tale of cat and mouse, that inverts the genre by forcing the reader to root for the murderer. It is one of my favourite crime novels ever. So it was with great excitement that I opened Higashino's latest offering. Sadly I was disappointed.

It is always hard when reading follow-ups to much-loved books. So often enjoyment founders on the rocks of expectation. Had I not loved Suspect X perhaps I would have been more forgiving. Suspect X is a novel that's perfectly paced and seamlessly plotted with great characterisation. It's impossible not to love. Here, whilst the crime is elegant, the pacing is flat and the characters flatter.

The mystery here revolves around a businessman, found dead from drinking poisoned coffee. The most likely suspect, his wife was hundreds of miles away when he died. If it was her, how did she do it? There are a few other possibilities, but everything points to the cool collected wife. I liked Suspect X, because it was clean and simple. The crime was neat, there was no sensationalist gory violence. And so it is here, but it's almost too clean. There are few clues, and the main source of investigation is where the water came from; filtered, bottled or tap? It's hardly the stuff of legend.

Added to this are flat characters. Ciphers. Jilted wife, young mistress, arrogant and meticulous victim. Even the police officers are dull. The lead investigator's supposed infatuation with the prime suspect, was utterly unconvincing, again in complete contrast to Suspect X. There is one recurring character in the two novels, Yukawa, expert physicist and part-time aider of investigations. In this book he is set off to one side. He occasionally chips in with helpful comments to keep the investigation on track, but he was detached from the events of the novel, reducing his interest to the reader. When he does make an appearance, he comes across as a poor copy of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory.

The reveal of the central mystery is interesting, but some of the discovery of clues was fortuitous to say the least, robbing the novel of credibility. So all in all, this was a disappointment. I'm not sure it could ever have lived up to Suspect X, but I feel that the author focused so hard on constructing the perfect crime, he took his eye off those vital components, pacing and characterisation. If you haven't read Suspect X yet, then I urge you to do so. If you have, move on, wait for the next one, and hope for the best...
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on 12 August 2014
This book had two main failings. First, a very unlikely, convoluted and technical solution as to how the murder took place. Without giving any secrets away if you don’t understand how Japanese water filters work then a lot (far far too much) of the book will be lost on you. Second – minimal characterisation development. None of the main characters had any personality, we were told the lead policeman was in love with the wife of the deceased. No evidence – just told that.

On the cover the author is touted as the Japanese Steig Larson. Based on this very ordinary book he is far from that. A very average mystery with everything sacrificed to the cunningness of how the murder took place – but this was so technical and unlikely that the book never took off.
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on 29 February 2016
As a fan of classic detective fiction, I'm encouraged by reports of modern novels along classical lines: a crime (preferably as baffling as possible), an investigation (preferably as un-detective's-personal-life focussed as possible), and a decent plot (preferably as intricate as possible). Keigo Higashgino is being heralded as a practitioner of such schemes - known as honkaku in Japan - and so I picked up Salvation of a Saint with some hope.

It certainly fulfils the first two requirements: a man is poisoned and his wife probably did it, but she was several hours away at the time and the natue of the poisoning means that there seems to be no way for her to have prepared it in advance. Cue our detective team - the observant, brilliant Utsumi is a particular highlight - and a series of intricate obervations and discussion based around possible poison deliveries, playing out and then rejecting one theory after another as the hugely entertaining first half progresses.

And then at the halfway stage it becomes clear that this is all you're going to get: the same discussions, the same arguments back and forth, with no real developments and no new additions to the excellent setup. It freefalls into a forced development that adds some context but very little in the way of necessary plot, limps on for a bit, and then the who and how is revealed. It's a bold and very clever scheme, and possibly completely original (which is no mean feat!), but the collapsing of intricacy in the second half reveals that this is little more than an excellent setup and reveal padded up to novel length.

Fun and interesting, but either too long in realisation or too short of ideas.
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on 6 November 2014
Keigo Higashino is a very simple yet effective storyteller. The language is economic yet atmospheric and I enjoyed it as much as The Devotion of Subject X although I recommend you read that first as an introduction to some of the characters. Looking forward to reading more by this imaginative and original author.
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on 16 August 2013
I came to this as a great admirer of The Devotion of Suspect X and several other Japanese Genre books (Taichi Yamada for example), so expectations were high.

Let's start with the positives: I read it to the end. That's it.

In this book we're presented with "the perfect crime" and it's mildly interesting to see Detective Kusanagi and his colleagues deduce what happened. But the problem is that the deductions are so contrived, simplistic and puerile. Even readers who want to suspend disbelief just so they can enjoy the book find the logic of the arguments leaves the reader incredulous.

And as for the ending... makes me sorry I stuck with it to the end.
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on 8 November 2012
Much like The Devotion of Suspect X this makes for an enjoyable read. Certainly, I found myself trying to pick the book up at any spare moment, quickly reading from beginning to end. I wouldn't go so far as to say I was gripped. There are other crime novels which fit that term better. Not that I can say knowing the killer from the outset is the reason for the novel lacking intensity. The twists and turns of the investigation keep the interest high.

No, there are two elements which take this novel away from warranting glowing praise. The first of these - and I concede there may be cultural reasons - was my inability to identify with the characters. None of them possess much depth and inhabit the realm of cliche entirely. The biggest drawback, though, the resolution of how the crime was committed brought to mind just one thought; that was very contrived.

If you know you'll enjoy the process of deduction you'll enjoy this book, even with the implausibility of the method of committing the crime. Coupled with the pleasure - the mild amusement - I had in the formality of the character interactions made this enjoyable nonetheless.
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on 7 February 2013
Salvation of a Saint is a book that promised so much and delivered so little. Its USP is really that there is rather an intriguing murder method which only really becomes apparent at the end of the book, although there are some pretty strong hints earlier on. However, in order to get that far, the reader has to wade through about 200 pages of very ordinary writing - the characters are not only one-dimensional, they are almost universally unsympathetic. The reader knows who committed the murder about half way through the book, the only intrigue remains the question of how the murder was committed. The characterisation is flat and unconvincing, as are the relationships between the characters. My advice: don't waste time on this one.
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on 29 November 2014
An interesting story where you think you know who is responsible, but you simply have no idea how they committed a crime. Ultimately it's not as good as The Devotion of Suspect X, but still, an intriguing crime novel.
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