In The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, as the two main characters engage in a riveting battle of wits, a rich and complex plot gradually unfolds, ultimately evoking an exquisite synthesis of unexpected emotions.
Genre: Mystery, Detective, Romance
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Buy From amazon India
Price: Rs. 189.25 for Kindle edition and Rs. 350 for the paperback
In a moment of desperation, while trying to save her teenage daughter Misato, from the clutches of her sleazy ex-husband Shinji Togashi, Yasuko Hanaoka kills him. The relief of saving her daughter against all odds, is shattered by the threat of being convicted of murder.
Before Yasuko has a moment to process the horrifying situation she suddenly finds herself in, the doorbell rings. The man at the door, Ishigami, is a genius mathematician who has had to make some tough choices and ended up with an unfulfilling career as a high school math teacher, and happens to be her next door neighbor.
He ignores her feeble attempts to hide the crime. She is awed by his frighteningly accurate deductions and guesses as to how Yasuko killed Togashi with Misato’s help.
Yasuko had only just learned from a friend that morning, that Ishigami harbors a soft spot for her. She can’t think of a single other reason why Ishigami goes to such lengths to help her hide the crime from the police. Ishigami seems to be able to outthink the police at every step, ensuring the safety of both mother and daughter by giving them detailed instructions on exactly how to respond to questions the police ask.
It’s not until Manubu Yukawa, a physicist and an old friend of Ishigami, gets involved, that the police make any real progress with cracking the murder. But is Ishigami too smart for them? A riveting game of cat and mouse, a battle of wits between mathematician and physicist, long time friends and competitors, ensues.
Has Ishigami the genius mathematician, executed the perfect cover up? Then what is the price of perfection? Read on to find out.
The story, like a complex musical composition, gently ramps up to a crescendo. It starts out quite simply, and almost seems like a run of the mill mystery story, but all along you know you are missing something. Even though you can’t put your finger on it, you know something just isn’t right, and you can’t stop reading as you long for that eureka moment.
The story is a battle of wits between two geniuses. You know a little of what both sides are thinking, and yet a lot of it is quite foggy. As you slowly unveil the bridge from both ends, your heart races up the arch, but as you approach the top, prepare for the feeling in your stomach you associate with a steep drop.
The central point of the plot is ingenious. But what sets this mystery apart, is the way it triggers a plethora of emotions ranging from awe to compassion to pathos, and even a little revulsion. It contrasts the petty concerns of everyday life, the search for happiness, and the fragility of it all, in the face of heroic sacrifice and its lasting impact even when it is rendered meaningless for all practical purposes.
The book cleverly uses a well known social issue most of us prefer to ignore (for precisely this reason) as an important plot point.
I enjoyed the references to, and descriptions of, a few complex mathematical problems which lent a ring of authenticity to the characters in the story.
The price of perfection.