You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X is a Japanese crime novel by Keigo Higashino. The crime in question is the murder of a man named Togashi by his ex-wife Yasuko. Yasuko's neighbor Ishigami hears the struggle and knocks on the door to her apartment, announcing that he can protect Yasuko and her daughter Misato if they will do exactly as he says. Ishigami proceeds to cover up the true nature of the crime and police.

With this setup, the story builds as an intellectual struggle between Ishigami and the police detectives searching for Togashi's killer. The detectives involve their friend Yakawa, a physics professor who knew Ishigami in college. Yukawa takes the opportunity to visit Ishigami and renew their friendship. Ishigami is as puzzled by the murder case as the detectives, and he begins to explore different possibilities. Every conjecture he makes is confounded by Ishigami's and Yasuko's alibis. Since the detectives have no other suspects, they work on breaking apart Yasuko's alibi. Some of the lengths they go to are quite demanding, which shows how much attention they have focused on the case.

Ishigami turns the investigation into his own mystery puzzle. He is a bit unsettled when Yukawa takes an interest in the case but he still deflects any suspicion away from himself and Yasuko. Ishigami's character is drawn well by his actions, illustrating both his intellect and his devotion to Yasuko. He is a math genius who is dissatisfied with his job as a high school teacher and tired of lazy students. Yukawa is a smart professor who encourages his students and enjoys solving mysteries. Yasuko is a stereotypical Japanese woman who is meek and has little power compared to the men in her life.

The twists in the investigation keep the detectives and Yukawa guessing, and they are surprising to the reader also. Every time they think they've found something, Ishigami has already anticipated it. Even right down to the last play, he comes up with options.

This book was better than I was expecting. While the language and characterization are a bit flat, the the developments in the plot are intriguing. Ishigami proves to be an intelligent and creative adversary. Yukawa, using his intuition, is determined to figure out what is wrong with the evidence at hand. I ended up being as surprised at some of the developments as the detectives in the story. B+

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