Monday, January 17, 2011

Booktalk: The Devotion of Suspect X

I was recently given an advance copy of this book to read and review.  I was excited because it had won the Naoki Sanjugo Prize, which is roughly Japan’s version of the National Book Award.  It has also been turned into a blockbuster movie in Japan (less exciting- I know what Japanese domestic movie hits usually are).  Then I learned it was a mystery.   Now, I don’t usually read mysteries, or at least mysteries for adults.   I used to love Trixie Beldon, The Boxcar Children, and Encyclopedia Brown.  Those, however, are much different than mysteries written for people over the age of twelve.  As such, I started this book with the assumption I would hate it and that I would spend half the time angry at not being able to solve the case.  This didn’t happen.   Instead, I read it in one go (real review now!):

Keigo Higashino’s 容疑者Xの献/Yoshiga X No Kenshin/The Devotion of Suspect X  (trans. Alexander O. Smith) revolves around a single housewife, her daughter, the mathematician who lives next door, a physics genius, several well-meaning cops, and the housewife’s estranged, and now dead, ex-husband.  Higashino’s use of multiple narrators leaves the reader believing they know the whole story almost from the very beginning, but the perspectives ignored are just important as those fleshed out.   Personally, I enjoyed the multiple perspectives the story is told from and the fact that much time is spent teasing the detectives assigned to the case, but found Yasuko (the housewife) a bit stereotyped.   If you like mysteries, Higashino’s work is worth a look—he was nominated for the Naoki Sanjugo Prize five times previous to winning with this book. 

If you want to read this, it comes out in February.  If you can’t wait and are linguistically skilled, it’s available now in the original Japanese, and is widely available from, where I may have found the cover image.


  1. Sounds interesting! How'd you get an advanced copy? That's really cool.

  2. I read a lot, and use this Facebook app to record all my books. Since I'm apparently in the top 300 users, I get books ahead of time every once in while, so long as I review them somewhere.

  3. Well, this is a really delayed response, but I use Visual Bookshelf, because it is the one most of my friends do. Also, it allows me to use and to find books to add to my collection, which is helpful given the number of odd books I read.