(2012) #32 review: The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X



Translated from the Japanese by  Alexander O. Smith

298 pages

Published by  St. Martin’s Press in 2011
(originally published in Japanese in 2005)





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, 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 not 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.


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.


Keigo Higashino is one of the most popular and biggest selling fiction authors in Japan—as well known as James Patterson, Dean Koontz or Tom Clancy are in the USA.

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.

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Indie Reader Houston
The Book Whisperer



November 2011 wrap up

Wow, here we are already in December, time to look at our statistics, wrap up all our Reading Challenges, and see what else we want to read before the end of the year, and sign up for new fantastic Reading Challenges for 2012!

In November, I read only 5 books, but with a total of 1961 pages, which is a good average for me of 65.36 pages/day; thanks Murakami, I would not have done it without your most amazing 1Q84

Sadly, it looks like I did not finish any non-fiction book this past month, I’m still in the middle of 2.

And I listened to only 1 audiobook, 11:32 hours long, which is an average of 23 mn/day. But I have 2 going on right now…

So here are the novels I read:

1Q84, by Haruki Murakami – 924 p.
In A Strange Room, by Damon Galgut – 207 p.
Departure Lounge, by Chad Taylor – 173 p.
The Broken Teaglass, by Emily Arsenault – 370 p.
The First Rule of Ten, by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay – 287 p. [ebook]

Alas, I only reviewed 1Q84 so far.

The next 2 I read to finish my Europa Challenge, not too great.

As for the last 2, they are mysteries, easy and good. The very last one will be published next year actually, it’s with of a former Buddhist monk who became a detective, with some bits of Buddhist wisdom here and there. Neat actually. So reviews upcoming for all these.

And my favorite is with no doubt, as I give it my 2011 favorite award:


Read my review if you have not done so yet, and run to your library to get the book!


As you know if you follow this blog, my favorite female narrator is Orlagh Cassidy. Even if I had listened to another audiobook this past month, this one would probably have been my favorite anyway:

My review is here


Reading Challenges

2011 Audio Book Challenge – Addicted- Listen to 12 Audio Books: 12/12   DONE!
My Dewey Decimal Challenge – Master Level =4.  26/4!  DONE!
2011 Non-Fiction Challenge – 7-9 books from different categories: Future Jeopardy Champion. 22/9!  DONE!
Europa Challenge – Ami Level =4. 4/4DONE!
Japanese Literature Challenge – 1 book between June 1, 2011 and January 30, 2012: 3/1  DONE!

*** *** ***

I am all covered as for Reading Challenges for 2011, and am in the process of signing for quite a few for 2012 – a post will come soon.

Here are the books I would like to read before the end of this month:

– Saint Gregory Palamas As A Hagiorite [in process]
– Is That A Fish In Your Ear? [in process]
– A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, part 2, maybe [in process]
– The Man In My Basement [in process]
– There But For The – audio [in process]
Heresy – audio [in process]

Then I would like to listen to Heresy’s sequel: Prophecy

And I plan to read these, at least:

– For The King – very good historical novel I believe
– Reamde –trying again this author, they say this book is easier than his other ones
– Books Can Be Deceiving – a good mystery
– To Say Nothing Of The Dog –famous classic science-fiction book

How was your November month?
What do you absolutely want to read before the end of the year?

#87 review: Lilith




Book originally published in 1895

Audiobook 10:30 HOURS

Volunteer Narrator: Pete Williams (free audiobook on Librivox)

This book counts for

2011 Audio Book Challenge


A friend of mine often referred to MacDonald as her favorite author, but for whatever reason, I never tried any of his books until now. I was actually looking for free and decently narrated audiobooks on Librivox. I say decently, because these books are narrated by volunteers, and some days, I have had a hard time finding something well narrated. So I tried Lilith, and oh my!

What a book! The blurb below says how he influenced Tolkien and CS Lewis, yes! That’s the same kind of huge human and religious epic, built on a neat mystery starting in a library. How better can you get! It’s quite hard to review. I can only say I had no idea what I was getting into, and I felt totally swept away. It’s huge, full of symbols and fantasy elements, and you get the whole picture of the human story, with its fall and redemption. And there are great surprises along the way, when you discover who the characters stand for.

As I mentioned in my review of 1Q84, I wonder if Murakami also could have been influenced by Lilith: in both works, you find a great importance given to the moon(s) and to the “little people of the forest”. If some of you read both books, I would be most interested to know what you think.

The narrator was excellent. I have no idea if he is the famous Pete Williams, or just a very gifted volunteer. He had the perfect tone of voice for the depth and suspense of the story. I will definitely read more books by MacDonald.

And by the way, NO, it’s not a book for children.


20th-century poet W.H. Auden said of this novel, “Lilith is equal if not superior to the best of Poe.” The comparison only begins to touch on the richness, density & wonder of this late 19th-century adult fantasy novel. First published in 1895 (inhabiting a universe with the early Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde & Thomas Hardy), this is the story of the aptly named Mr Vane, his magical house & the journeys into another world into which it leads him. Meeting up with one mystery after another, he slowly but surely explores the mystery of humanity’s fall from grace & its redemption. Instructed into the ways of seeing the deeper realities of this world–seeing, in a sense, by the light of the spirit–the reader & Vane both sense that MacDonald writes from his own deep experience of radiance, from a bliss so profound that death’s darkness itself is utterly eclipsed in its light.–Doug Thorpe (edited) [Goodreads]


George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L’Engle. It was C.S. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his “master”: “Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later,” said Lewis, “I knew that I had crossed a great frontier.” G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had “made a difference to my whole existence.”

Elizabeth Yates wrote of Sir Gibbie, “It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling.”

Even Mark Twain, who initially disliked MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by MacDonald.