I’ve been trying to read more novels lately. Here’s a brief review of the latest one.
I picked up The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino as it was a recommendation from the owner of a small bookstore owner. (I always like to support the non-chain bookstores).
I did notice a handful of grammatical issues, especially in the early pages of the book, which I found surprising. Sure, it’s been translated from Japanese, but this 2011 English version has also been nominated for two awards for its translation.
Set in contemporary Japan, it focuses on Yasuko, a quiet single mother who has moved to escape her former husband. However, when he shows up at her apartment one night, it doesn’t end well for anyone, and when her neighbour Tetsuya Ishigami offers his genius-level maths approach to assisting the young family, the stakes are raised, and the plot becomes complicated, but thankfully, still easy to follow.
It’s the third book featuring the Detective Galileo character, known as Manabu Yukawa, who is an old college friend of Ishigami and whose investigation, coupled with his knowledge of Ishigami’s eccentric behaviour, leads to the novel’s intensity in the latter half. I haven’t read the other two books featuring the detective, and it wasn’t an issue. This is a stand-alone novel that you can delve right in to.
The first half is a bit slow, but it certainly picks up in the last half, and as I got down to the final chapters, I couldn’t wait to finish it. There are surprising developments which work splendidly in raising questions about various characters’ integrity and true motivations.
There are two film adaptations out already, (a Japanese, and South Korean version), with a third American remake on the way. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of one novel spawning that many international adaptations in such a short amount of time.
Although there are crime elements, seeing as it is a murder mystery, it never becomes gory or gruesome. It is a story about murder, sure, but it is more about the exploration of unusual relationships, the line between respect and romance, and the depths one can sink to to rationalise horrific acts, as well as the effects of loneliness and social isolation.
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