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The Devotion of Suspect X

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Brilliant and Engaging

"Which is harder: devising an unsolvable problem or solving that problem?" This question is posed early in The Devotion of Suspect X and is the heart of the conflict. A brilliant mathematician in love with his next door neighbor helps her create an alibi for a murder. O...
"Which is harder: devising an unsolvable problem or solving that problem?" This question is posed early in The Devotion of Suspect X and is the heart of the conflict. A brilliant mathematician in love with his next door neighbor helps her create an alibi for a murder. One that must stand up to the scrutiny of the police and, unexpectedly, an old college friend and rival. The battle of wits is fascinating and deeply involving. The crime is clear, but the construction of the alibi and its ability to withstand scrutiny is fascinating. The story reminds me in some respects of a Sherlock Holmes mystery if it were told from the perspective of Moriarty. The clues are there and the reader is invited to make sense of them along with the police. The thrills come not from the crime, which is revealed in the first few pages, but from wondering if the police are actually getting closer or being led astray. The "how" and "why" of the clues left behind invite you to match wits with the characters. That this book is originally written in Japanese only shows up in unfamiliar place names and different personal motivations based on culture. The english translation was perfect and the book was a very quick read. The conclusion of the book is both exciting and devastating. I received this book as part of an early reader program, and can understand why Keigo Higashino is so highly regarded in Japan. I hope that he finds an American following as well with this wonderfully written novel.

posted by tottman on December 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Not as good as I expected

This book got great reviews and I love a mystery. It is a "backward" non-mystery with the murder coming first. Devotion was a best seller in Japan and I think it must have been better in it's original language. I found it slow and plodding. I did finish it but was glad ...
This book got great reviews and I love a mystery. It is a "backward" non-mystery with the murder coming first. Devotion was a best seller in Japan and I think it must have been better in it's original language. I found it slow and plodding. I did finish it but was glad when it was done so I could get on to something better.

posted by PereLachaisse on August 9, 2011

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  • Posted December 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Brilliant and Engaging

    "Which is harder: devising an unsolvable problem or solving that problem?" This question is posed early in The Devotion of Suspect X and is the heart of the conflict. A brilliant mathematician in love with his next door neighbor helps her create an alibi for a murder. One that must stand up to the scrutiny of the police and, unexpectedly, an old college friend and rival. The battle of wits is fascinating and deeply involving. The crime is clear, but the construction of the alibi and its ability to withstand scrutiny is fascinating. The story reminds me in some respects of a Sherlock Holmes mystery if it were told from the perspective of Moriarty. The clues are there and the reader is invited to make sense of them along with the police. The thrills come not from the crime, which is revealed in the first few pages, but from wondering if the police are actually getting closer or being led astray. The "how" and "why" of the clues left behind invite you to match wits with the characters. That this book is originally written in Japanese only shows up in unfamiliar place names and different personal motivations based on culture. The english translation was perfect and the book was a very quick read. The conclusion of the book is both exciting and devastating. I received this book as part of an early reader program, and can understand why Keigo Higashino is so highly regarded in Japan. I hope that he finds an American following as well with this wonderfully written novel.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A smart whodunit with precise timing and alarmingly clever curveballs

    A smart whodunit with precise timing and alarmingly clever curveballs, The Devotion of Suspect X matches the murderous progression of a mathematics teacher's proof against a physicist's logic and a detective's intuition. Despite knowing what really happened from the first chapter, this book will have you quickly thumbing pages, eager to figure out the end.

    When Yasuko and her daughter Misato strangle Yasuko's brutal ex-husband Togashi after a threatening encounter in their apartment, their quiet neighbor Ishigamo unexpectedly steps in to help, taking care of the body's disposal and carefully crafting the women's responses to the police questions sure to follow. As the formal investigation progresses, it seems that Ishigamo, a genius math scholar currently teaching at a local high school, has thought of everything. Kusanagi, the detective in charge of the inquiry, finds the facts flimsy and turns to his former classmate, Yukawa, a brilliant physicist with a predilection for amateur sleuthing and Ishigamo's erstwhile competitor. Adding Yukawa to the equation is a factor that even Ishigamo and his legendary logic hadn't considered, but will it matter in the end?

    Normally, murder mysteries fall slightly outside my diameter of preferred reading materials. Perhaps due to a youthful overdose of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels. Mysteries fell off my radar entirely when I could guess endings or characters felt too shallowly developed, or, unfortunately, both. Higashino's novel avoids both pitfalls with ease.

    Be warned that it may take a few chapters for the unfamiliar names to read easily and some trite phrasing plagues the translation from Japanese -or it might also have plagued the original -, but overall the book's unique premise and foreign culture add drama to Higashino's already charged pacing.

    If you crave an unsolvable mystery, you'll find The Devotion of Suspect X rife with pretzeling facts and one mathematician's murky motives.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2012

    THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X by Keigo Higashino is the beginning of

    THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X by Keigo Higashino is the beginning of a different kind of a police procedural, which uses wit and supreme intelligence to solve crimes. This is an intelligent mystery of 'how could this have happened.'

    A mathematical genius and his physicist genius friend are comrades and foes in this mystery. The question being "Is it more difficult to formulate an unsolvable problem or to solve that problem." The characterization and atmosphere gladly take
    second place in this fantastic new style of mystery. Though 'new' for most of the mysteries written today, it definitely has the feel of a Sherlock Holmes type conundrum! Fascinating and thought provoking throughout, though we know who did the murder, the 'how' was enthralling to the very end!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Very clever novel. It is immediately established that the ex-wi

    Very clever novel. It is immediately established that the ex-wife is guilty and the turns and twists of the cover-up make for a very thought-provoking read. Sort of a thinking man's murder by numbers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Smart Mystery

    "The Devotion of Suspect X" by award winning Japanese author Keigo Higashino is a fictional mystery book but not in the usually "who-dun-it" style. This charming novel focuses on the mind games played between the suspect and a police consultant - both brilliant mathematicians.

    A divorced single mother and former night club hostess , Yasuko Hanaoka, thought she finally escaped her ex-husband when he shows up on her door step. One thing leads to another and the ex-husband ends up dead. Ishigami, Yasuko's neighbor who is a middle aged high school math teacher, hears the commotion and helps her get rid of the body.

    When the unidentified body turns up, Detective Kusanagi turns up on Yasuko's doorstep as part of his investigation. Yasuko however has an airtight alibi. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a brilliant physicist who gets a kick out of help the detective solve what seems to be unsolvable crimes. Yukawa is a college friend of Ishigami and is convinced he has something to do with the murder.

    "The Devotion of Suspect X" by Keigo Higashino is a very clever mystery novel. The mystery is the way the investigation unfolds, layer by layer while the reader is privy to how the murder was done is a unique way to tell a story; it is also dangerous because the pitfalls to ruin the story are many. Actually one could say that this book, certainly a thinking person's novel, is more of a psychological drama, a cat and mouse game, than a mystery.

    The interaction between the characters is very interesting and the characters themselves are appealing as well. As we get to know Ishigami, we learn why he wastes his time teaching high-school students who don't care and that he must pass. We learn about his strange devotion to Yasuko and keep wondering what made him do what he did - all the way to end.

    Understanding Ishigami is the key to understanding this book.

    Scattered throughout the books are complex philosophical questions and mathematical proofs. I found those interesting even though some were hard for me to grasp but somehow they helped the story move along. How Keigo Higashino achieved that might be the true mystery of the book.

    A word of praise to the fine and fluent translation by Alexander O. Smith.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Scholarly police procedural

    Be prepared to get sucked into this new thriller from Keigo Higashino. While he's already a big name in Japan, this is his first book translated into English. It's best called a police procedural rather than just a crime novel, because every little detail Higashino includes has a point in the story. What's most unique is as soon as you begin, the murder of a man occurs, and you know exactly who did it. Straight up, it's right there, demanding you pay attention!




    The mystery of the novel comes into play as the crime is investigated by the police force as well as two academics, one a physicist and the other a mathematician, both former competitors who are eager to prove their superiority to each other as well as the police detectives that they look down upon. Nothing plays out as ordinary, although the characters can be considered regular people. Rather than an all-seeing Hercule Poirot type of solution, the novel is instead about observation of facts and the interpretation of the tiniest details. Because of the amount of intricate details, sometimes the narrative slows down. In fact, at a few points, you may even be distracted and feel as if you are balancing your checkbook. Yet that's the trick Higasino plays: the monotonous details are the most revealing and ultimately solve the crime.




    In addition to the mystery, the author builds credible characters, and makes their motives always remain a bit unclear. At times, while knowing 'whodunit', I still found myself questioning what I already knew, and wondering how much I assumed. Seeing a snapshot of the life of middle-class Japan, with its emphasis on decorum, routine, and reputation, makes a cryptic setting for the murder and its repercussions.




    Two factors bear mentioning: one, despite the complexity, the pace of the novel is subtle and quiet. This isn't an episode of CSI; there are no car chases or explosions. An intellectual challenge for the reader, it's as quiet as a crossword puzzle and much more complicated. Additionally, despite the initial murder (it was a bad guy, after all), there is no gore or expletives. None of the skin-crawling vulgarity or horrific crime scenes that some crime novels rely on appear in this story. To be honest, this is a classy crime novel, and I hope more of the series is translated into English, soon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This deep dark thriller grips the audience

    In Tokyo, mathematics teacher Ishigami worships recently divorced beauty Yasuko Hanaoka. He decides to do something for his perfect fantasy and for himself by changing his perceived triangle (with his idol and her ex as the other cortexes) into a straight line by eliminating one of the angles. Thus, lonely Ishigami strangles to death Yasuko's abusive former husband Togashi who threatened his paragon using their daughter Misato as an extortion pawn. No one will mess with his beloved and live.

    Police detective Kusanagi leads the homicide investigation. Yasuko finds herself mentally confused by the deranged mathematician's perfect logic to keep her safe from the arrest for the murder of her ex. Meanwhile Kusanagi literally plays chess with the mathematician's schoolmate physicist Yukawa and figuratively with Ishigami, who he suspects may be the killer. However, Yasuko repairs the triangle by adding the third angle wealthy Kudo; which leads to Ishigami to become obsessed with eliminating one third again.

    Once the reader adapts to the Japanese names, this deep dark thriller grips the audience as the logic of adulatory worship is used to justify murder. This grim tale is character driven by caring people including the deranged lonely mathematician. The Devotion of Suspect X is a fabulous psychological thriller as everyone plays the game of relationships, but no matter what one does to simplify the equations of life ultimately everyone shares in common being checkmated.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    A must read!

    This is about a man that has a secret crush on a neighbor and does her a favor. At first she is relieved that he help her with an accidental crime but later as the implication of how indebted she is to him and how possessive he is, she becomes scared.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Best Laid Plans

    Perhaps the plan of a mathematical whiz can only be undone by another mathematical whiz, or perhaps the author just had the creativity to invent a tale full of intrigue and puzzle solving. Either way we have something new, something worth reading. Perhaps it was just the translation, but I found the story awkwardly told in places, but nothing severe enough to stop me from recommending it to readers of interesting plots.

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    Enjoyable new author.

    A good translated mystery by japanese novelist Keigo Higashino. Pretty simplistic as far as a mystery is concerned but I found Ishigami a really powerful motivating character. Explores the themes of isolation and loneliness, and how far a person would go to protect those eho are dear to them. I would read more from this author.

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