Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X by Heigo Hashimo - Translation by Alexander G smith with Elye Alexander

The Characters
1. Yasuko Hanaoka - A divorcee, mother of a teenaged daughter - hard working lady whose entire life is about bringing up the daughter; simple, honest and decent
2. Misato - The daughter; active, simple and tough
3. Ishigami - Highly qualified mathematician; an idealist who loves the purity of the subject; a man to whom life has been extraordinarily tough; a sensitive, intelligent, devoted and totally selfless man...
4. Yukawa - Ex-classmate of Ishigami; equally gifted; assistant professor at a top university and advisor / friend to the police officer Kusanagi
5. Kusanagi - Police officer; doughty; methodic; logical bent of mind; a man who just doesn't give up...
6. Togashi - Ex-husband of Yasuko; wily, rough, uncouth, untrustworthy

The Plot
The story starts in a very slow tempo - so slow, that you wonder how did this book ever garner the fame that it has managed to? At about the 3rd or 4th page, you begin to want to skip words and move on. This lasts all of 8 pages or so... thereafter the book increases its pace - till about the 15-20th page -when it simply explodes into uncharted territory. Hereafter, you forget everything about skipping pages and are glued to the story...for here it becomes a "murder" story in which the victim gets murdered in first chapter; the murderer is known to the reader - and nothing is hidden from the reader!
This unique concept then develops into a battle of wits between the police and the planners... because the evidence is irreconcilable with the physical facts. The evidence is so convoluted that it does not fit any theory; the cover-up by the hapless murderer and the accomplice is so complex in nature that no one is able to crack through the subterfuge. The beauty of the plot is in the fact that you - the reader knows exactly how the murder is committed; you are aware that the body has been disposed off; you are equally aware that every bit of evidence found is fabricated; you are aware that the fabricator of the evidence is extraordinarily intelligent as also aware of police methods, technology and tactics; and yet you (the reader) are up against the inexplicable approach that leaves the police totally confounded; you yourself get confounded since you are unable to explain the evidence despite knowing almost everything that has transpired. Saying anymore will spoil the fun, so read the book to find out more

The Analysis
An eminently readable, unputdownable book that maintains superb speed from about the 10th page till the last page. It is the first book since the Perry Mason series that I have unable to put down after starting it. The pace is relentless; the plot is confounding with several superb and totally unexpected twists towards the end of the book. The story does not resort to the usual tactics of whodunit writers - police chases; constant investigations and interrogations; hunting new evidence; running around from pillar to post etc etc - and yet, it maintains both pace and interest. Instead, the approach used is intense, with frequent indicators and allusions that pique your interest. At every turn, the inexplicability of the evidence is highlighted in sequentially greater detail... I regret not being able to say more, since that will spoil your fun!
 The story is intense, as is the translation which is also intense. The translation deserves a special mention - it is rare to find a translation which is so good; having said that I regret deeply my inability to read Japanese script- I would love to read the original. If the translation is so intense, then the real thing must be doubly so. All in all, an excellent book... 5 stars in my opinion





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