There is heroism in crime as well as in virtue. Vice and infamy have their altars and their religion! As William Hazlitt echoed these words, nothing better sums up the central theme of Keigo Higashino’s whirlwind tale of intensified mystery titled “The Devotion of Suspect X”. The book that has captured the imagination of a million people and has gone on to become the latest Japanese sensation is apt enough to deserve the accolades. The author creates magic with the battle of 2 brilliant minds and unravels the plot in the midst of a cold, spine chilling puzzle.
Yashuko – a single mother and her daughter Misato has carved out a life of their own, in the underbelly of a Tokyo suburb after she successfully dodges her blackmailing ex-husband. But things don’t go as planned, when Yashuko’s ex-husband turns up one night to persuade her. In an unexpected turn of events and a sudden scramble of self defense, they commit a heinous crime by killing the man. Overcome by an intolerable urge to safeguard her daughter, Yashuko accepts the Ishigami’s offer to help them. Herein begins a tale of a congruous and impenetrable logic of an incorruptible mathematical wizard – a high school teacher, in pursuit of devising the unsolvable problem does an act of unimaginable self sacrifice that could lead him to a bottomless valley.
But it is often said, that destiny lies in the path you often take to avoid it. The investigation was aided by Ishigami’s college mate, Yukawa another equal mind, a genius physicist. As the race to the finish lines begins, with Ishigami’s sole purpose to save the woman he has loved all his life and Yukawa, who in his undying curiosity of delving into Ishigami’s mind lock horns. It’s an epic battle of wits and observation, of unforeseen derivations and logic. Slowly Yukawa begins to tear apart Ishigami’s immovable shield of logic and deception. This part reminds of the conflict of an unstoppable force and an immovable object unreal but made believable by the author’s unanticipated story telling capabilities.
Higashino’s style of weaving the plot seemed unparallel as the story rolled over with delicious intricacies and meticulous details, is sure to create a lasting impression on the reader’s mind. Keeping in mind the author’s story telling genius, the monotone of the book mars the excitement and dampens the climax a tad too much. The writing style is easy to understand and popularistic but at times as a reader I did feel the dearth in the strength and depth of the language, which sometimes did fail to capture the emotions of the characters and keep the reader hooked on. The book portrays the extensive research and the effort the author has taken to align mathematics, philosophy and basic human psychology in a straight line. It’s a worth read and definitely a recommend for the sake of sheer brilliance of Higashino, unparallel turn of events, the characterization of two old friends and the emotional aspect in the background.
Author: Keigo Higashino