Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Book: The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino (U.S. 2011)

Some book posts should simply be a photo of the cover and the words READ THIS. This novel – spare, haunting, meticulously assembled – deserves to be the best-seller here that it was in Japan.

Ishigami is a math teacher who keeps to a strict routine, and to himself. His only indulgence is a deep, unspoken affection for Yasuko, the divorced mother living next door. He gets an unusual chance to come to her aid when she kills her ex-husband after he threatens her and her daughter. Ishigami puts his fearsome intellect to work creating a flawless alibi. What he doesn’t know is that an old college friend, every bit as brilliant, works as a consultant for the police. Soon he’s matching wits with a most dangerous adversary: someone who knows and likes him.

Mathematics and Ishigami’s appreciation of its beauty is a constant theme, and one can’t help drawing parallels to the book itself. There is a simplicity to its language and its storytelling that is indistinguishable from elegance. Higashino, one of Japan’s most popular authors, weaves in fully wrought characters one at a time, slowly expanding the world as Ishigami’s action draws him out of his shell. It’s possible to read Suspect X as a meta critique of the age-old literary versus genre fiction debate. Only by hewing to a structure can it access the deep wells of emotion at its conclusion. Like a proof, it methodically follows rules to reveal a powerful, almost overwhelming truth.

So yeah. READ THIS.