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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
The Devotion Of Suspect X
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on 10 August 2015
The Devotion of Suspect X, is a novel by Keigo Higashino, and is the third instalment in his Detective Galileo series. It is also his most acclaimed novel so far, garnering him numerous awards, such as the 134th Naoki Prize, one of the most highly regarded awards in Japan.
This work also won the 6th Honkaku Mystery Award, considered one of the most prestigious awards in the mystery novels category in Japan, plus several others, gathering acclaim from critics and readers alike. The English translation was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Barry Award for Best First Novel.

The story follows Tetsuya Ishigami and Yasuko Hanaoka, as they go about their daily routines. Yasuko is a divorced single mother who works in a restaurant packing bentos for its local clientele. Ishigami is a highly talented mathematics teacher, who lives next door to Yasuko and her daughter, and is a regular at the bento shop and is secretly enamoured with Yasuko. This quiet safe and monotonous routine explodes when Yasuko's violent ex-husband Togashi, tracks her down with the aim of extorting money from her by intimidating both Yasuko and her daughter, Yasuko, has been here before and just wants to get rid of him, so he attempts to use her daughter as a means of extortion. When this fails he loses his cool & in a rage begins to hit out, this situation escalates rapidly and ends with being him being killed by the mother and daughter. Whilst horror-struck and paralysed by what they've done, there’s a knock on the door.

Attempting to establish some order in the flat, Yasuko then answers the door, to find Ishigami standing there; who having heard the commotion, has somehow deduced its cause and is offering to help. In fact he is offering to remove all responsibility for disposing of the body, and is plotting a means of covering up the murder & to organise an alibi for the mother and daughter.

Eventually the body is found and despite a reasonably airtight alibi Kusanagi, the detective in charge of the case looks in Yasuko’s direction, partially because there are no other suspects & partially because despite no obvious holes in her alibi, he feels that there's something wrong with her story, that it just doesn't sit right with him.

So far a fairly standard detective novel, but this is more than that, what I haven’t mentioned is that although Ishigami is working as a maths teacher it appears that he is hiding his light under a bushel, it turns out that he was something of a maths prodigy and still could be described as a genius when it comes to issues of maths and logic. Add to this the detective Kusanagi, has a friend Dr Manabu Yukawa, a physicist who frequently consults with the police and who could also wear the badge of genius lightly - and he is an old friend of Ishigami. What follows is a tightly constructed game of cat and mouse between the Detective who has his sights on Yasuko and Ishigami who is directing things from the shadows, it falls to Yukawa, to see what is really going on and in doing so realises the love & devotion that Ishigami has for the divorced Yasuko and also the lengths Ishigami is willing to go to sacrifice himself for that love.

Because despite this book having a plethora of awards & critics stating what a fantastic detective, crime, mystery novel this is – it isn't.
What this really is, is a romance, a tale of unrequited love and obsession masquerading as all of the above, as a mystery novel it is great, as crime fiction it is fantastic, as a work of detective writing it is wonderful, but what raises it above all of those is that deep dark tale of a love that is willing - despite no chance of being requited - of doing whatever it takes to safeguard the person it is directed at. What raises this beyond the standard ideal of crime fiction is the character of Ishigami and the sacrifices he is willing to make to protect Yasuko, and it is only towards the end of this journey does his old friend work out how dark and bloody and how fatal this tale becomes & with it he sees the depths of the math teachers love and devotion.
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on 30 September 2017
This is a great book. Very different to the many mystery stories I have read. A very clever author indeed. I will buy more of his books.
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on 30 May 2017
A vastly different crime novel where the post murder process is more significant than the deed. Admittedly slow paced but still intriguing.
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on 20 August 2011
Less a 'whodunnit' than a 'how & why-dunnit' set in Japan. Very well parsed plot, seen through the eyes of a mathematician and a physicist. A suitable twist near the end, and a shiver-down-the-spine psychological denouement. Excellent holiday reading, and a change from usual UK-US fare.
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on 29 May 2013
A very good read. One of the best crime novels around. Would
definitely recommend this book. Will be reading more by this author.
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on 31 May 2016
Really well written and gripping story
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on 28 July 2016
Very good book, bit different and worth a read, very easy to get through as well, not a hard one to stick at it with.
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on 30 June 2016
I love it, a little difficult with the names, but with notes a super book
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 September 2015
With the exception of ‘Naoko’, 2004, this is only the second of the author’s mysteries, and the first of his Detective Galileo series, to be translated into English [by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander]. There is a fatuous comparison of Keigo Higashino to Stieg Larsson, this time by a reviewer in The Times, that is both ill-advised and unnecessary since the author is a very accomplished and inventive writer in his own right.

Higashino concentrates the action and its origins into the first fifty or so pages, during which the identity of the killer or killers is revealed, but then keeps the reader’s attention firmly gripped for the next 350. Readers starting this book may be surprised at this given the mind-numbing detail of the first half-dozen or so pages but, if they persevere, many will be as hooked as I was.

The long book has only a handful of central characters – the killer or killers, two detectives, Kusanagi and his junior colleague, Kishitani, from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, and Manabu Yukawa a brilliant associate professor of physics at Tokyo Imperial University and equally exceptional amateur sleuth, the ‘Detective Galileo’ of the series.

To give details of the plot would only limit the impact of this extraordinary book that is a taut psychological thriller, procedural mystery, compelling love story [which distinguishes between many different forms of love] and novel about life in contemporary Tokyo. My qualifications lie in the author’s occasional rather inelegant exposition of concepts in mathematics and science, logic and philosophy, and – more significantly – in the trans-Atlantic translation that undermines the author’s creation of Japanese characters in a Japanese environment. Are the translators unaware that people in Tokyo would be most unlikely to say ‘Hang in there, Detective’, ‘I’m just futzing around’ and ‘ It’s more like him dropping in to shoot the breeze’ or refer to ‘John Doe’? Perhaps they think that the reader is unaware or simply does not care? Whatever the reason they do a disservice to the author’s carefully crafted dialogue and descriptions of modern Tokyo, and they insult the reader’s intelligence.

The relationships between the characters are finely drawn but to illustrate them would give away too much of the plot which has distinct elements of Simenon in its masterly construction and development of believable psychological tension. The author inserts a twist that is likely to catch most readers out but is totally in character with what has gone before, even if he slightly over extends his ending. However, it may frustrate murder/mystery purists.

There are some very authentic scenes in which suspects and witnesses are interviewed by the police, relationships are set bare and hypotheses discussed, refined and rejected, only for this process to start again. Unusually, there is an exquisite balance between the main characters and the author offers revealing and believable portrayals of men and women under pressure.

The novel deserves a definite 5* rating whilst the translation only a very charitable 3*. I will certainly look out for the next two books in the series and hope very much that Mr Smith will adopt a much more sensitive and appropriate choice of language.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2012
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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