Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Devotion of Suspect X
I've got a problem. It's The Devotion of Suspect X. I adore that title. Why? Not sure. It's mysterious and comforting at the same time? The problem is that I did not love the book itself.
In some mysteries and suspence novels there is the Oh No Don't Do That Moment. The moment when as an onlooker you know that what a character is doing is a really bad idea. The kind of bad idea that will snowball into a full on police investigation. In these kinds of mysteries if it's the victim that does this thing you can accept that the ball got rolling and move on. When it's the main suspect? That's not so good and that's the beginning of The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino.
Divorced, single Mother Yasuko thinks she has escaped her brutal ex-husband and his nefarious activities. She and her daughter are living a simple, quiet life. She works in a local take away restaurant and is enjoying a peace and independence she never thought she would have again. She is also being stalked by the brilliant but socially awkward mathematics teacher next door, Ishigami. Back into her life one day comes the vicious ex-husband. He's not making any overt demands but his presence alone threatens Yasuko. She is terrified that now that her past has caught up with her, she and her daughter will be victimized all over again. Then.... then comes the Oh No Don't Do That Moment. It defies logic and reason and it sets up the murder mystery/police procedural storyline.
The novel is set in Japan and there is enough local color and slang to satisfy the armchair traveler in you but there is nothing about this story that makes it specific to Japan. The Devotion of Suspect X could be set anywhere. There are a few very interesting characters in Devotion: the evil ex-husband, the primary dectective, the expert the police bring in Dr. Manabu Yukawa and especially the neighbor Ishigami. However Yasuko and her daughter are bland, annoying and ultimately I could not get past Yasuko's plot device misstep and enjoy everything that played out afterward.