Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X

May 11, 2012 28 Comments

Author:    Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Hachette India
Genre:     Fiction/ Crime Thriller
Cover Price: Rs 350

What happens when Math helps conceal a crime and physics try to unravel it? Well, who would have thought that theorems and formulas would be the new Sherlock Holms and Poirot of 22nd century.

The devotion of suspect X is a story of Ishigami and Yasuko, Yasuko and Togashi, Ishigami and Togashi, and there’s an Inspector Galileo.  Sounds complex? Well if it ain’t, it wouldn’t make a good mystery or say thriller that it is.

Without giving away much thrill of this story (which I believe even a non thriller loving reader would like to read), I would define the central plot as a string of event that happened when 3unlikely people cross their ways- Ishigami or Buddha, Yasuko Hanoaka and Yukawa.

A genius math student at the Imperial University Tokyo, leaves his bright academic future to support his ageing parents. A young age Judo aficionado, he now middle aged, and lonely teaches a bunch of mathematically challenged high school junior students who are more interested in motorbiking and questioning the existence of subject. Apart from teaching and part time Judo classes, his other hobbies include solving complex mathematics problems at his free time and keeping a wishful, unarming eye on his pretty single mother neighbor. His entire effort to pursue her starts and ends at buying his lunchbox from the café where she works in until one day when he rangs her door bell and choose to talk.

A not so young but pretty divorcee who leaves her job at a club to raise her school going daughter with dignity and takes up a steward job at Benten Tei, a lunch pick up joint opened by a husband wife duo and her ex colleague from nightclub. Her life was a mundane work to home and forth until one day when her estranged ex husband tracks her back and reappears in her life.

An assistant professor of Physics, also known to Tokyo Police as Inspector Galileo was often called upon to assist with difficult investigation, more often by his friend- Detective Kusanagi. And then there was a secret lover of the lady at club Marian- Kudo who suddenly shows up one day trying to woo the already smitten lady soon after the murder of her husband. Not to forget, one of the central character of the story - Shin Ohasi road.

The story is gripping and a guaranteed page turner where the mystery is already disclosed in the beginning but what makes the book most interesting is the fact that what’s next. The language is simple and mellifluous, concentrating more on the plot than ornating it with diversionary literary flowers. The translator has also done a good job while keeping the essence of Japanese culture and interest of non Japanese reader in mind.

The book is intelligent and is already a best seller in Japan (Yogisha X No Kenshin). For some reason it missed the coveted Edgar award in 2012 but nevertheless has won another prestigious Naoiki Prize for Best Seller.The book has also made in to a FILM.

The author had given quite importance to required detailing, eliminating non value added descriptions. The characters are so well etched yet unknown that you wish to see them than just read. The opening of the book where writer has conveniently set in the site which later on became important part of the story. The characters are believable and a lot of logic has thrown in to substantiate a situation. For eg-

“He had always thought of mathematics as a treasure hunt. First, one has to decide where to dig; then one has to determine the proper excavation route that led to the answer. Once you had a plan, you could make formulas to fit in, and they would give you clues. If you wound up empty handed, you have to go back to the beginning and choose another route. Only by doing this over and over, patiently, yet boldly, could you hope to find the treasure- a solution no one else had ever found”.

It definitely met my above expectations and ensured that a lazy reader like me stick to it despite my  schedule (burning the midnight lamp) and finish the review within the meager 7 days. The only thing that I disliked about the book is the length and often the monochromatic tone it goes into.  374 pages at times just settle the steam and better, if could be shorter. A great psychological thriller instead of giving away more than what you can remember makes you wanting for more…so much that you can’t wait for other book by the author. Also, the lack of depth the characters of Yasuko & Misato were given which however, was heavily compensated by Ishigami.  However, it still made for a good read and criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.

The best part of the book is its chess like setting where two masterminds, one time old batchmatess- one novice criminal and other the unofficial detective, engage in cold fight to the finish line.  Another noteworthy fact of the book is the way how in battle of wits, the unassuming Ishigami try to protect the lady by outmaneuvering and outthinking the brilliant detective who has helped solved the most difficult cases of times, unofficially. 

If you ignore the slow pace of starting few pages (deliberated to set the context), the book is like a puzzle by each page. Well, telling you more is like giving you away the content which is a strict no no. So hurry up and grab your copy today!

My Verdict:- This is a good psychological thriller and a must read. I highly recommend it and would give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5 (It has made a lazy reader like me to stick n stumble through after all)

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The autor is half Human, half machine. Go Figure or just revel in what I write


  1. Thanks for the excellent review. I have to admit that I read the first 30 pages of this book and they were boring and predictable. Nice write up though. May be I should read again with a clear mind. Based on your recommendation, I will read this book with a fresh mind.

    Shall we say Tetsuya Ishigami could have been Japan’s Srinivasa Ramanujam. Hahaha.

    On the other hand, I want to discuss a serious subject (off line). Asians (means Japanese and Chinese) (Indians are not included). I know an Asian guy declined his Professor job in Europe because his dad was unemployed at that time in Taiwan.

  2. Thanks SG,

    Thank you for ur apreciation, it's always been a great encouragement :)

    I am sure you would like the book. The book gets racy and hooks you up after few pages say at least first 50.

  3. Anonymous11 May

    hey di....i m not at all a reader of novels and other such books....but really loved to read ur blog....will try to get this book and start reading it....although cant promise weather i will be able to finish it...but kudos to u for such a nice blog! sis..

  4. Anonymous11 May

    Hiii nice work Ekta.... very well put and it doesn't seem that it is ur first review... Keep it up... - Mayank

  5. Nice one... A fun read with a great ending.

  6. Hey Ekta, nice one! certainly doesn't sound like a first review :) Keep up the good job and keep 'em coming!

  7. Hi,

    Its been a long time since I was away and it feels good to be back again.

    The review makes me want to pick up the book. I have not read many stories in Japanese settings. Should be interesting.

  8. Great Review... I like it :) I reviewed this book too as a part of Blogadda book reviews. Please do drop by at:

    Following you on GFC.

    Don't forget to check out & participate in my current giveaways at:

  9. @ Vaibhav

    Thanks a lot for your comments. I got to know this anonymous is you via ur FB comment :)

    Let me know if u were able to pick n finish this book :)
    Love, didi!

    @ Raghav
    Thank u very much! Pl keep visiting :)

  10. @ Lazythink tank

    Thank u soo much :) Keep visiting!

    @ Sujata
    Same here. Pick it up...I am sure u may find it different than other Japanese novel and like this one too!

    @ Debdatta
    Thank u for writing in. I surely will visit your link and let you know. Keep writing.

  11. Simply amazing !

  12. @ Nona

    Thank U sooo much!
    keep visiting!

  13. nice review...
    do write more book reviews for you review pretty well

  14. now that u, my dear friend, has said this, i have to read the book.cheers

  15. @Nikhi
    Thanks Buddy! I sure will try! Keep visiting my site.

    @ Ramesh
    You bet and u better read and share with me...Er, ahem, write a review too when you do! deal? :)

  16. I loved the book too NU :) Nice review here :)

  17. @ Scribby
    Thank u buddy! Keep visiting my blog and keep reviewing :)

  18. Anonymous14 May

    If this is your first review then how will be yours 100 or 1000 one?

    Excellent review.

    P.S.:- Yukawa is called Detective Galileo and not Inspector Galileo!!

  19. Nice review...thanks for stopping by my blog to check out my review! :-D

  20. @ Palak

    Thanks mate! However I wonder if I ever write a 100th review as am not that good a reader you see :)

    But when I do my next, will let u know :)

    @ Modern Gypsy
    Thanks and anytime :)

  21. Hey! Nice review Ekta! Yours is very nicely written, and you've correctly pointed out the awards and movies made on the book. Cheers! Always a delight to come to your blog.

    Read the "Internet is fun" wala blog too! Hehe.. both of us have written about zoozoos!

  22. I liked your review more than mine. :). You write so much, yet give away nothing.

    I do not agree much with your criticism about the book being long drawn, especially the first chapter- why the murder happens there itself! Overall, good work!

  23. A good review!!
    This book was sure a page turner!! Keeping the readers hooked despite it being known pretty earlier in Chapter 2 about the identity of the murderer!! Would love to watch the movie now on this!!

  24. @ Abhyudaya
    Thank you so much! :) I am glad you liked it!

    Cheers to you too...

    I haven't exactly written about zoozooz...but have written a post on them long- years back! You may like to check in my archives :)

  25. @ Anupama

    Thank u soo much. That's real sweet of you to say so :)

    Yup, I agree that it's not such a long book but u know am little a lazy reader :)

    Hey, good to see ya here...have u read my new post on "Internet is fun"? pl do :)

  26. @ Shilpa
    Thank u soo much! :)

    Yup...after a long time a book that did justice to it self. loved it.

  27. Ekta, that was an excellent review of what sounds like a complex psychological thriller. You have pretty much covered the language, pace and the development of the story along with the planes, plots and other facets of the work. And although I haven't read the book yet, I am sure your conclusion is spot on. I may just read the book sometime.

  28. @ Umashankar

    You know what's the best thing that may happen to any review? It's that when someone who hasn't read or heard of the book but likes the review so much that he/ she feels like reading is!
    Thank you buddy for giving me that compliment and encouragement :)


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