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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X
Keigo Higashino
Minotaur, 2011

Yasuko Hanaoka thought she had escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day, the situation quickly escalates and Togashi ends up dead. Yasuko's next-door-neighbor Ishigami offers his help, not only disposing of the body, but plotting the cover-up as well.

This psychological mystery is fascinating in its character development. The action is slow to build, but the interesting cultural tidbits about life in contemporary Japan should help interest the reader while the plot moseys along for the first half of the book. Ishigami, the next door mathematician, is at first a secondary character, but his cleverness and obsession is slowly revealed until the reader is hooked into his complex and compelling reasons for helping a near stranger escape her just punishment for committing such a violent crime.

Even though the “mystery” here is not such a mystery (we know who the killer is), the true suspense is following the detective as he slowly unravels Ishigami’s many-layered cover-up to a totally unexpected ending. In fact, I would like to read it again in order to see if the clues to his ultimate plan are strategically placed throughout the story. Other more experienced mystery readers may see what’s coming, but I sure was fooled. The author’s gift is the skill in which he unveils Ishigami’s plan bit by bit, so that the reader discovers each element of his scheme as the detective does. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.


Higashino is a best-selling crime novelist in Japan. The Mesa Public Library does not own any other translated books by this author.

Other titles you may enjoy:

Out by Natsuo Kirino (2003) After strangling her husband, Masako Katori, a middle-aged wife and mother working the night shift at a Tokyo factory, enlists the aid of four co-workers to conceal the crime.

Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto (1989)
Inspector Imanishi Eitaro is assigned to investigate the murder of an unidentified man at a train station outside Tokyo. Imanishi travels throughout Japan, sifting and weighing evidence and encountering plenty of clues before he can identify a suspect.

Rei Shimura Mystery Series by Sujata Massey
First Book: The Salaryman’s Wife (1999)
During a sightseeing trip, Rei Shimura, a young Japanese-American English teacher living in Tokyo, stumbles upon the body of the wife of a powerful businessman and turns sleuth to solve the crime, crashing a funeral, masquerading as a bar girl, and pursued by police in her search for clues.

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