Touted as ‘the Japanese Steig Larsson’, Keigo Higashino manages to live up to the hype with crime thriller ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ which is fast becoming a worldwide best-seller following its huge success in Japan. The story of how a mathematician helps his next door neighbour cover up the murder of her abusive ex-husband is not so much a whodunnit but more of a how-did-they-do-it with just as much suspense and intrigue as a more straightforward murder mystery plot.
Comparisons with the Millennium Trilogy are not particularly helpful though. For a start, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ contains hardly any graphic violence and the Japanese setting and emphasis on routine are extremely different from the Swedish landscape of Larsson’s work. Instead, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X is a quiet slow-burner that doesn’t have to rely on dramatic scenes to make an impact. That doesn’t mean that the lack of gory action makes it any less of a thriller though. Its genius lies in the logical, methodical brain of Ishigaro and the simplicity of the languages contrasts with the intricacy with which Higashino subtly adds layers of detail to the case. At the beginning, it appears to be rather formulaic but Higashino manages to both sustain a well-crafted, measured plot and develop his characters and their relationships making ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ a step above your average crime novel.
The thing about this book that everyone is talking about is the ending which is indeed very surprising although I am generally not very good at guessing the ending of murder mysteries anyway. Gripping and intense, ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ will keep you in suspense as the plot slowly unravels to reveal that nothing is really as it seems.