Irene's Reviews > The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
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Apr 20, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: arc, gave-away
Read in September, 2010 — I own a copy

Not only is THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X a multi-faceted cultural reading experience, but it also acutely complements the familiar psychological suspense/thriller/mystery genre by infusing Japanese philosophy. Keigo Higashino shrewdly and subtly induces the reader to contemplate the immeasurable complexities of the human psyche by questioning what motivates one human being to judge who is worthy of life, and who is not.

Tetsuya Ishigami’s daily schedule is precisely what one would expect of a Japanese mathematics’ teacher. His unsuccessful attempts to motivate visibly bored and apathetic students discourage Ishigami, and his one true passion of solving a complex mathematical formula, lies outside of the classroom within the confines of his small apartment. A barren life carved out of necessity dramatically changes when Yasuko and her daughter Misato introduce themselves as his new neighbors. He imagines a fantasy life with them, listening to mother and daughter through the thin apartment walls, and his daily walk to school includes a stop to purchase his boxed lunch at the small shop where Yasuko works. Within this fictitious context, Ishigami surprisingly exhibits a fierce desire to protect both mother and daughter, and so begins a bizarre tale that originates with the unexpected arrival of Yasuko’s nefarious ex-husband Togashi.

To divulge the minute intricacies of this suspenseful tale would require *spoilers.* Ishigami’s masterful, methodical, and devious scheme demands a skillful exposé by the incongruous, yet highly likeable duo of Dr.Yukama and Detective Kusanagi, the intrepid investigators who are destined to unravel the shocking and mind-boggling conundrum. Imperial University graduates in different fields, Ishigami, Yukama and Kusanagi, seem equally matched; Ishigami, unappreciated mathematical master of a methodical crime committed to protect Yasuko and Misato, and Yukama, preeminent master of rare intuitive observations of human frailties, and Kusanagi, resolute advocate of justice match their unparalleled wits to a stunning unbelievable conclusion. The factual drama predominantly hinges on the intellectual “cat and mouse” chase between Ishigami, “Buddha” at University and Yukama, affectionately known as “Professor Galileo” by the police.

Initially, the translation was a bit stilted, but once engrossed in the book, it was hardly noticeable. In addition to the utterly fascinating and distinctive premise, the cultural milieu depicted an informative contemporary view of Japanese life.

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Reading Progress

02/15 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy I'm working on this one too...I like it so far. Sort of subtle...

Irene Subtle...perfect!

message 3: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy I reviewed it too. Love the old-school detective style, didn't realize how much I missed simple psychological thrills!

message 4: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Duh, I already commented on your review. Tired.

Irene Me too..way past my bedtime...catching up (that is a joke)!!

message 6: by Lynnda (new) - added it

Lynnda Ell Thanks, Irene. I'll put this one on my to-read list.

message 7: by Alexander O. (new)

Alexander O. Smith Hi, Irene!

Thanks for your review, I'm glad you liked the book. I'd be interested to hear what you thought was clumsy about the translation at first. Full disclosure: I'm the translator. (But I take criticism well.)

Irene Hi, Alexander O.,

"Stilted" may have been the better word because the dialogue felt a bit formal as I initially read it. I will change "clumsy" to "stilted," as the latter is a more apt description.

I read a number of translated books, and English is my second language (Polish is the first), so I notice such anomalies. Truthfully, I always am impressed with the amount of time and work that is essential in translating a book from any language to English! If it were not for you and your colleagues, my access to the world's library would be limited.

Minimal criticism...dynamite book!

A pleasure to meet you.

message 9: by Alexander O. (new)

Alexander O. Smith Hello again!

And thanks for your insight--the opening to any book in translation from Japanese is rough, I think, for the reader if there's any attempt being made to reflect the formal nature that the language can sometimes have. The weirdness goes on until the characters establish a voice in your head, but I think you've hit on something I always thought was a necessary evil...and maybe it's not!

I'll definitely give the dialogue in this book a look over with that in mind before moving onto similar projects in the future.

Thanks, and a pleasure to meet you, too.

Christine Excellent review! I've also read this book and your review is thorough and intriguing without spoilers.

Irene Thank you, Christine!

message 12: by Jannet (new)

Jannet Guajardo The Devotion of Suspect X is a very exciting mystery. The twist and turns have you guessing about what really happened. It makes you question love, devotion and good sense. Being lonely and unloved can cause such extreme emotions. I hope to read more from Keigo Higashino.

Irene Fascinating interview with Alexander O. Smith and Marilyn Dahl in today's issue of Shelf Awareness:
Devotion of Suspect X

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