The Japanese are true devotees of mysteries but regrettably few of their books get translated into English. One of that country’s most noted authors, Keigo Higashino, finally has one of his novels published in America and it is certain to open the floodgates for many more. The Devotion of Suspect X won Japan’s top literary award, the Naoki Prize, the equivalent of our National Book Award, and is a huge bestseller throughout Asia. If ever a novel deserved the accolades that have been heaped upon it, this is the one.
The saying, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” probably best describes this book. The plot seems simple yet is actually complex and puzzling. A woman is overheard by a neighbor when she kills her ex-husband. The neighbor, Ishigami, is a mathematics professor who is secretly in love with her. As a way of proving his devotion he creates an alibi that is perfect in just about every way. The police detective in charge is baffled and turns to his friend Yukawa, a physics professor, for help. Yukawa and Ishigami were university students together and are both considered brilliant in their respective fields. The police cannot break the woman’s alibi but Yukawa suspects that Ishigami is involved and investigates on his own. A battle of wits ensues between these two brilliant men leading to a conclusion so startling, so shocking, and yet so perfect that it will leave you breathless. Author Higashino has played fair and provided every essential clue necessary for the reader to solve the puzzle, but I doubt many will do so. Despite a flat translation, this psychological thriller will stay with you long after you close the covers.