The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino,
translated by Alexander O. Smith

All I can say is read this one, but read it all the way through. It’s the end that makes it outstanding.

Set in Tokyo, the book starts out with a woman, Yasuko, killing her ex-husband to protect her daughter, so we know who the killer is, who was killed and why. Her neighbor, Ishigami, a brilliant mathematician, decides to help her cover up the murder, so we know who her accomplice is but not why he goes to such extremes to protect her.

I have to protect them, thought Ishigami. He would never be this close to so beautiful a woman ever again in his life. He was sure of that. He had to summon every last bit of his strength and knowlege to prevent any calamity from happening to her. (pg. 36, ARC)

Enter the detectives, a pair of good guys trying to figure out what happened. If it were just them working on the case, probably they wouldn’t get anywhere, but they are being aided to some degree by Yukawa, an associate professor of physics who happens to be an old college friend of the mathematician. It comes down to a struggle between the two of them, Yukawa and Ishigami, as to who can outwit the other. At the same time, though, they admire each other. They are both geniuses and don’t have many equals they can relate to. They’re both almost too brilliant to be believable, but I’m willing to overlook that.

If that were all there is to it, it’s a compelling story, an intelligent thriller, but the end, the last chapter or so, stunned me. It made me think back to the rest of the book, picking up on details I hadn’t seen the first time around. And the last page’s raw emotion is astounding. I don’t want to tell you too much, because I don’t want to spoil the ending. Trust me, it’s worth your time.

298 pages (ARC)
To be released February 1, 2011 by Minotaur Book

5 out of 5 stars

Pre-order at Amazon, an Indie bookstore, or The Book Depository.

Challenge: Mystery & Suspense

I received my ARC from the publisher and the above is my honest opinion.

About Keigo Higashino

Born in Osaka, he started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co. (presently DENSO). He won the Edogawa Rampo Award, which is awarded annually to the unpublished finest mystery work, in 1985 for the novel Hōkago (After School) at age 27. Subsequently, he quit his job and started a career as a writer in Tokyo.

In 1999, he won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for the novel Naoko, which was translated into English by Kerim Yasar and published by Vertical Inc. in 2004. In 2006, he won the 134th Naoki Prize for The Devotion of Suspect X (Yōgisha X no Kenshin). The novel also won the 6th Honkaku Mystery Award and was ranked as the number-one novel by Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! 2006 and 2006 Honkaku Mystery Best 10, annual mystery fiction guide books published in Japan.

The English translation of The Devotion of Suspect X was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Barry Award for Best First Novel.

He writes not only mystery novels but also essays and story books for children.