And they weren’t!
Truth be told, I wish I did not have to describe this book, because to do so would mean a number of spoiler alerts. But review, I must. The kind folks at BlogAdda sent me this book – and the title alone was enough to make me rip the package open. Ignoring Nirav’s lovely personalized note inside, I also set the thoughtful bookmark aside and sat down to read. The book came as a welcome break.
I am a huge fan of police procedurals. In fact, my all-time favorite TV show is “Columbo”, the series that spanned almost three decades (1971 to 2003). It starred Peter Falk, who is a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Wait – I am not rambling. There’s a point to this reference. You see, what sets the Columbo series apart from most other stories is, the episode always begins with the crime. And then, the police step in to investigate. I quite like that sequence and The Devotion of Suspect X follows a similar story. Yet – there is a twist to the tale that takes the breath away.
Keigo Higashino, dubbed by The Times as “The Japanese Stieg Larsson’ won the Edogawa Rampo Prize for writing at age 27 – and I’d say he deserved it.
So without further ado, the book review.
“The Devotion of Suspect X”
by Keigo Higashino, and beautifully translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander
The key characters:
Ishigami, the math teacher and judo instructor, Yasuko Hanaoka, a single mother, her teenaged daughter Misato; Togashi, Yasuko’s husband, Detective Kusanagi and Dr Manabu Yukawa, physicist and college friend of Kusanagi and Ishigami. Then there is Kudo, Yasuko’s admirer (Rolls nicely off the tongue, eh?).
The story begins with Ishigami heading off to work, just like any other day, via the “lunch” shop, Benten-tei, where he picks up his boxed lunch. He particularly visits this shop so he can see the love of his life, Yasuko Hanaoka. Yasuko is divorced and a single mother. She has a teenaged daughter Misato. Now, Yasuko works at the Benten-tei. She is under the impression that she is finally free from her abusive ex-husband Togashi. But to her horror, he reappears in her life and threatens her and ends up extorting money from her each time.
Yasuko is disgusted and afraid and when he turns up at her door one day after she gets home from work, the situation turns unexpectedly violent, resulting in a dead Togashi. What to do? In the meantime, Ishigami, who is her neighbor in the adjoining flat, offers to help dispose off the body AND help her stay safe from being found by the police. Flags of suspicion go up in Yasuko’s head, but since she’s caught between a rock and a hard place, she accepts.
Ishigami plans a cover-up that is so masterful and befitting a mathematician’s brilliantly logical mind. So, the story unfolds as Detective Kusanagi gets on the case when an unidentified body turns up. Eventually, the investigation leads the police to Yasuko who has a watertight alibi. Yet, Kusanagi senses all is not okay in that quarter. He discusses the case with his friend, Dr. Manabu Yukawa who often helps the police crack stubborn cases. Yukawa learns that Yasuko’s neighbor, Ishigami is his college mate, who went by the nickname “Buddha” and is delighted to get back in touch with him.
What follows is a nail-biting investigation and a battle of wits as Ishigami continues to shield Yasuko and her daughter before the facts emerge.
I am sorry, folks. I refuse to reveal any more of this story.
I loved the book. You will too! So go grab it and settle down with the beverage of your choice!
Buy it on Amazon (International)
Or Flipkart (India)
Thanks for a great addition to my bookshelf, BlogAdda!
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