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Book Review - The Devotion of Suspect X

She hadn’t meant to kill him.  As Yasuka Hanaoka stared at the lifeless body of her ex husband on the floor of her Tokyo apartment, she realised that she was a killer and must now turn herself in.  She had been so wrong.  She’d thought that marriage to Togashi eight years earlier would give her and her daughter the financial and emotional security they needed.  But it all turned into a nightmare when Togashi turned out to be an embezzler.  They’d been divorced for five years but he still hounded her from apartment to apartment and job to job, never leaving until he had extorted money.  But what now?  Her daughter was adamant – this had been self defence, she must not turn herself in.

Help came from an unlikely source, her neighbour, Mr. Ishigami, a quiet scholarly man who was a mathematician.  He helped Yasuko to dispose of the body and destroyed the evidence.  But when a fluke revealed the identity of the victim, once the body was found, the investigation begins to heat up.  As the finger of suspicion points at the ex-wife for whom Togashi was searching in his last days, the story hurtles towards an unlikely and horrific conclusion.

It would have been wonderful to read this story in it’s original Japanese, but unable to read that language, I had to make do with the English translation.  The translation was compellingly written.  I found this novel to be a perfect thriller, which kept me riveted to the very end.  This novel captured Japan, selling two million copies.  It evokes the quiet anonymity of  Tokyo life, where millions of people live quiet, busy lives in tiny box-like apartments, none knowing what happens in the apartment next door.  So many lives of quiet desperation, people reaching for a little bit of happiness, even if the price is way too high.  It paints a sad picture of  people, trying to find some meaning in life.  But we all know that life doesn’t have to be like that, don’t we?  The spiritual side which gives weight and joy to human existence cannot be experienced by people who lead busy, busy lives.  The lonely mathematician and his old friend and college fellow, the physicist seem to find joy in their subjects, though.

In the early pages, I came across two Japanese words, kotatsu (low table) and ramen ( a noodle dish).  I think that a footnote explaining the meaning of these words would not have gone astray.  Also, as in Indian and an Irish reader, I found the plethora of admittedly beautiful Japanese names a tad confusing at times.  They are so totally unfamiliar and I wish that the publishers could kindly supply a character list at the beginning of the book so that a slightly confused reader who has perhaps picked up this amazing book after a break can quickly remind themselves who’s who.  There are more than a few characters.
This book is a must read for anyone who enjoys reading thrillers – and even for anyone who doesn’t.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino can be found here by readers in India, here by international readers in ebook and print format and here by readers in the UK.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Make me want to read it--give a link in Facebook too!.


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