Translated from the Japanese
by Alexander O. Smith
Published by St. Martin’s Press in 2011
(originally published in Japanese in 2005)
THIS BOOK COUNTS FOR THE FOLLOWING READING CHALLENGES
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
I love it when time comes to delve back into my Japanese Literature challenge. There is something very attractive in Japanese literature, I am not sure yet what. Maybe you can help me identify it.
Mysteries and thrillers are not my top category per se [wow, things have changed, they are now as I edit this post in August 2022!], but I REALLY enjoyed very much The Devotion of Suspect X.
It is a very smart book, and I do enjoy smart books!
It all begins as a somewhat regular murder case. But through the intervention of a neighbor, who happens to be like a secret lover, things get much more complex and very interesting.
As a matter of fact, this guy, Ishigami, is a smart mathematician, with an extremely logic mind. That comes handy to cover a murder, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it sound irresistible if I add that a former friend of his, another super smart guy, Yukawa, a physicist this time, tries with his own extra logic mind to figure out how Ishigami is implied, and how he covered it? Will Yukawa or a team of detectives manage to solve the case? Well, of course I am not going to tell you.
Funny enough, I had figured out a possible solution, but that was far away from the one chosen by the author, so I guess I could rewrite the book with my own end to it! Could really anyone figure out that one? I sincerely doubt it.
The book is well written, with a progressive sense of suspense, and nice daily lives descriptions in Japan. It was also a good invitation to think about what happens in you when you get very engrossed in someone. What are you doing with these feelings? Can you master them, or will you follow them, wherever they might lead you?
This is not as high literature as 1Q84, but it is a very different genre.
I know some readers have trouble with foreign names. So I suggest you write down the name of the characters as they come along, to be sure you remember who is who.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step. When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko’s manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there’s something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Osaka, he started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co. (presently DENSO). He won the Edogawa Rampo Prize, which is awarded annually to the finest mystery work, in 1985 for the novel Hōkago (After School) at age 27. Subsequently, he quit his job and started a career as a writer in Tokyo.
In 1999, he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Inc award for the novel Himitsu (The Secret), which was translated into English by Kerim Yasar and published by Vertical under the title of Naoko in 2004. In 2006, he won the 134th Naoki Prize for Yōgisha X no Kenshin. His novels had been nominated five times before winning with this novel.
The Devotion of Suspect X was the second highest selling book in all of Japan— fiction or nonfiction—the year it was published, with over 800,000 copies sold. It won the prestigious Naoki Prize for Best Novel— the Japanese equivalent of the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize. Made into a motion picture in Japan, The Devotion of Suspect X spent 4 weeks at the top of the box office and was the third highest‐grossing film of the year.
Higashino’s novels have more movie and TV series adaptations than Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum, and as many as Michael Crichton.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS SPECIAL
IN JAPANESE LITERATURE?
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