Salvation of a saint

Title: Salvation of a Saint (Detective Galileo #2)

Author:Keigo Higashino

Translator: Alexander O. Smith

Reader:  David Pittu

Category: Mystery

Audio published: October 2, 2012 by Macmillan Audio (First published 2008)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Yoshitaka, who was about to leave his marriage and his wife, is poisoned by arsenic-laced coffee and dies.  His wife, Ayane, is the logical suspect—except that she was hundreds of miles away when he was murdered. The lead detective, Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi, is immediately smitten with her and refuses to believe that she could have had anything to do with the crime.  His assistant, Kaoru Utsumi, however, is convinced Ayane is guilty.  While Utsumi’s instincts tell her one thing, the facts of the case are another matter.  So she does what her boss has done for years when stymied—she calls upon Professor Manabu Yukawa.
But even the brilliant mind of Dr. Yukawa has trouble with this one, and he must somehow find a way to solve an impossible murder and capture a very real, very deadly murderer.

I read The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino back in 2011 and loved it. I remember just being stunned by the ending, so I had high expectations for Salvation of a Saint. It was a good mystery, but perhaps not quite as clever as the other. Although it’s the second in the series, it stands on its own perfectly well. We are given everything we need to know and each is pretty self-contained.

Salvation of a Saint is not so much a whodunit as a how did she do it. We know in the first chapter who the killer is, even though the police don’t. The question for us is how did she do it from hundreds of miles away. So, while we see the police going through the procedure of finding suspects, searching for clues, we’re pretty sure we know who the evidence will point to in the end.

I truly enjoyed this audiobook, once I got used to the names. At first, I have to admit, all the Japanese names are a little confusing. David Pittu does an excellent job reading, giving each character his/her own voice and inflections with just a touch of a foreign accent that adds to the flavor of the book.

The two detectives, Kusanagi and his assistant Kaoru Utsumi, have different views on the crime. Kusanagi has a bit of a crush on Ayane, the victim’s wife, and thinks she must be innocent, while Utsumi is sure she is guilty.  This makes for some tension between the two and also gives us some insight into their characters beyond just being “the police.”

When the solution as to how the poison got in the coffee isn’t clear, Utsumi calls in physics professor Manabu Yukawa who has helped on several cases in the past. He’s just a brilliant man, curious about the hows behind cases, not so much concerned about justice.

I can’t say this is a character-driven mystery; it definitely falls more into the puzzle category, although one character does drive the story- Ayane. I don’t want to tell you too much, but she manages to be both caring and cold-blooded, calculating and hopeful. And the solution, while perhaps not earth-shattering is still pretty surprising, in that someone could actually pull it of.

I’m really enjoying this series. I guess there’s a third that hasn’t been translated yet. I’m looking forward to it.

Detective Galileo Series

  1. The Devotion of Suspect X
  2. Salvation of a Saint
  3. Manatsu no hoteishiki  [Midsummer Equation]

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.