Home > Book, contemporary, Genre, mystery, Review > Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Red cover with part torn out revealing a person on a street.Summary:
In classic noir style, Higashino tells the tale of a mathematician, Ishigami, and a physicist, Yukawa, facing off utilizing only their brilliant minds in a quest to save someone they each love from a life of tragedy.  Simultaneously a story of love and betrayal amped up with academia and set against the quintessential backdrop of gritty Japanese city streets–not to mention a lunch box restaurant.

Review:
I fully admit that I put myself in to win this book purely because it’s Japanese literature, and I’m trying to expand my reading horizons to include more non-western lit.  I was therefore pleasantly surprised to see so many classic noir elements present in this modern day detective mystery.  Noir is one of my favorite genres and adding in the touches of Japan gave it a really fun twist.

It takes a bit for the story to get going and to get into Higashino’s writing style.  The sentences lean toward shorter in length than I’m used to.  Once I became used to the length difference though I really got into the different type of flow shorter sentences give to a piece of writing.  Naturally, this could partly be due to it being a work in translation, but good translators try to give foreign language readers a sense of the original author’s style.  I hope the translator succeeded in this regard, because this different style helped give this noir story an extra push in uniqueness.

The mystery itself is nearly impossible to completely solve before the final solution is revealed.  The final solution also contains some serious betrayal and an emotional scene that reminded me a bit of some Japanese cinema I’ve seen.  So intensely shocking and gritty and occurring in the very last few moments of the story.  It moves the story up from a fun way to pass the time to a memorable tale.

The pacing is a bit off, however.  Intensity speeds up and slows down repeatedly making it difficult to be totally sucked into the story.  A few edits would probably solve this problem leaving the same basic tale but without any unnecessary diatribes.  Some may not find the pacing variety as distracting as I did, however.

This Japanese noir piece is artfully pulled off and leaves the reader guessing to the very end.  I recommend it to noir and Japanese literature fans alike.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Won from EarlyReviewers via LibraryThing

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  1. geekylibrarian
    March 23, 2011 at 4:51 am | #1

    I may have to hunt this one down, also being a fan of both noir and Japanese lit. Have you read any Murakami yet (Haruki not Ryu…although you might enjoy both)? A Wild Sheep Chase was one of the key books that my friends and I passed around in college.

    • March 23, 2011 at 8:06 am | #2

      Oh wish I’d known. I could’ve brought it to the party last weekend! I haven’t read any Murakami yet. I’m just getting into written Japanese lit as opposed to graphic or manga. I’ll add it to my wishlist. Thanks, Jeremy!

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