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The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Posted on the 10 May 2012 by Raghavmodi @raghavmodi

So, I've decided to do book reviews. Why you say on a blog that is meant for films? Well, the simple answer to that is that I'll review books that are in one way or another related to films.
The Devotion of Suspect X has been a best selling book in Japan which led to a high grossing film with the name of Suspect X being released. Although, I am yet to see the film, according to news sources on the net it is being remade into a Korean film as well.
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino While the book might lead you to believe it is a murder mystery, it really is a love story with a difference. There is no mystery right from the start. The readers know everything. They know who is murdered and who is the murderer. When Yasuko Hanaoka's ex-husband, Shinji Togashi, visits her after a gap of few years, she knows that it the start of the same anxiety and pain she suffered while she was with him. Unexpectedly arriving at her apartment, Togashi is killed by Hanaoka and her daughter Misato (from a previous marriage). It is now that her neighbor and “admirer” Tetsuya Ishigami enters the story, taking charge and helping them cover up the murder. The brilliance of the story is that although it lacks mystery for the audience, initially, the play of events keeps the reader intrigued and interested. The introduction of new characters and the suspense of the police catching up onto the killers are good enough to keep the pages turning.
What follows after the murder is a battle of wits. It's a battle between the investigation officer Kusanagi and Ishigami as Ishigami plays one card after another in his master-plan. More importantly it is a battle of sciences between an ex-classmate of Ishigami, Manabu Yukawa, who being a physicist approaches the murder from a different angle compared to Ishigami who is a math genius. The Devotion of Suspect X at times resembles another Japanese Manga/anime/film, Death Note. While the stories are worlds apart, it too relies heavily on a mental battle between the two protagonists. It's almost like the reader is given a chance to see into the minds of the two academic geniuses as one puts together a puzzle while the other works towards decoding it.
The book is well written and easy to read. It might seem less complex for adult fiction at times, but keeping it simple gives the readers a chance to immerse themselves in this game of one-upmanship and even try and guess the outcome. The story might lack the gore and shock used by other Japanese fictional writers like Ryū Murakami (whom I recommend only if you have a strong stomach), but it still presents a window into the fascinating culture, morals, and traditions of Japan.
Now, as I mentioned the book is not a murder mystery per se. The audience is aware of everything, or so it seems. What the books lacks in suspense in the beginning, it makes up for by the twists and revelations arriving in the last few chapters, and mind you they don't stop till the very last page. As the final pieces of the puzzle come together it is as much a revelation for the characters as it is for the reader.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Poster of the movie based on the book, Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X is an outstanding way to introduce oneself into Japanese fiction, especially murder mysteries. Not hiding away from shocking and the eye-squinting stories, Japanese fiction has at times been lost worldwide due to translation. But, with the recent popularity of films based on books and books being translated, I'm glad to see it receive the much deserved accreditation.  
The Devotion of Suspect X is a must read book whether you like mysteries or intense thrillers. It's also a story of devotion and the extent to which people might go for their love. Now I can't wait to get my hands on the film which I'm told does justice to the book.
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