How far would you go to protect the person you love? Japanese author Keigo Higashino explores this question in his chilling thriller The Devotion of Suspect X. The story explores the depths of the human psyche and portrays an unflinching and unfathomable devotion that renders the reader speechless with awe and horror.

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorcee living alone with her daughter Misato. She has quit her former job at a bar and is now working at a local lunch shop called Benten-tei. Ishigami a maths teacher in school and her neighbour visits Benten-tei daily to purchase his boxed lunch. Everything seems to go along smoothly until one day Togashi, Yasuko’s ex-husband, shows up and tries to blackmail her. In a fit of rage Yasuko in the presence of Misato kills her husband. Ishigami comes to their rescue. He disposes off the body and prepares an elaborate alibi for Yasuko and her daughter. His brilliant plan seems to be working perfectly and it puts the police off the trail. But then enters Yukawa who is a brilliant physicist and an old friend and classmate of Ishigami. It starts a battle of wits as genius is pitted against genius - the brilliant mind of the mathematician against the perceptive and insightful mind of the physicist. The cat and mouse game goes and it leads to a shocking and horrifying final revelation.

The Devotion of Suspect X is an intense plot driven story which employs the classic technique of misdirection. Ishigami prepares an elaborate trap for the police. The investigators led by detective Kusanagi take the bait hook line and sinker. They are utterly perplexed and the investigation starts going around in circles until Kusanagi enlists the help of his friend Dr Manabu Yukawa. Ishigami and Yukawa are an ideal foil for each other and much of the tension of in the novel arises from the interaction between them.

All the main characters in the novel are well drawn out. Yasuko Hanaoka, a divorcee and a single mother, is a lonely and sad figure who is searching for love and stability in her life. Tetsuya Ishigami or the Buddha is a genius mathematician. But life has not been kind to him. Instead of a university job,name and fame he is forced to take the job of a humble school teacher and live a life of anonymity. Life seems to loose all its purpose for him until one day he meets Yasuko and her daughter Misato. Dr Manabu Yukawa is a professor and a brilliant physicist. He is a classmate and an old friend of Ishigami. He is clear and insightful, has a deep understanding of the human nature and has a affinity for decoding crime and puzzles . Because of these qualities his advice is often sought by the police and has earned him the moniker Detective Galileo. The other characters are staple in nature like the dutiful and obedient daughter Misato, the greedy & cunning ex-husband Shinji Togashi, the affectionate lover Kudo, the stock detectives Kusanagi and Kishitani.

The Devotion of Suspect X came out in 2005 in Japan as a third instalment in the Detective Galileo series and was an instant success. The novel has earned may awards including the prestigious Naoki Prize and the Honkaku Mystery Award. The novel has been adapted multiple times for the big screen including the popular 2008 Japanese film Suspect X and the 2019 Tamil language film Koligaran. The English tranlation of the novel by Alexander O. Smith was published in 2011. For the lovers of the classic murder mysteries this is a must read.

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