THRILLER This Japanese crime novel claims to be a national rage. SHREYAS BHAT can see why…
Title: The Devotion of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Hachette India
Price: Rs. 499
The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino is a rage across Japan or at least that’s what the jacket claims. Its tall claims include selling over two million copies, being made into a movie and being a national obsession. While what can be considered a national obsession may be debated, it’s other claims definitely hold good. The English version translated by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander has a cover which just screams Japan (what with the title literally on a Japanese flag!) while creating an ominous and grey mood reflected by the story.
The story revolves around a divorced mother Yasuko Hanaoka, her daughter Misato and their neighbour Ishigami. When Yasuko murders her ex-husband in an act of self-defence, Ishigami is the only one who can help but how far will he go? Will he be able to outsmart the detectives investigating the case and breathing down their necks? Or will it be Ishigami’s old friend, physics professor Yukawa, who cracks the case? On paper it looks like an out and out thriller but this is just the most basic layer.
Unlike a number of books in the genre, credit must be given to the emotional layers the author creates. He effectively portrays love, jealousy, fear, friendship and desperation in a way which is smooth yet intense. How far would Ishigami go to help the woman whom he secretly loves knowing very well that his feelings may not be reciprocated? This is the crux of the story. While the narrative does lack pace in many parts (this may sometimes be because of the grey mood of the story) it more than makes up for it with a grandstand finish of twists, turns and shocks.
This is one of those books that can be divided like a magic trick into three parts — the pledge, the turn and the prestige. The pledge here is simple and straightforward, the turn adds depth, layers and complexity but it is the prestige that truly takes your breath away. The prestige or the final part of this story combines a brilliant twist and gut wrenching emotions to create something that leaves you cold. And this is the author’s trump card. The author keeps you guessing till the end and this keeps the reader hooked. Bottomline: Definitely worth a read. Two million Japanese people will vouch for that!
Shreyas is a B.B.A student at R.K.M Vivekananda College.
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