“The Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Higashino

Book Cover

Book Cover

Wikipedia says:

The Devotion of Suspect X is a 2005 novel by Keigo Higashino, the third in his Detective Galileo series and is his most acclaimed work thus far. The novel won him numerous awards, including the 134th Naoki Prize, which is a highly regarded award in Japan. The novel also won the 6th Honkaku Mystery Grand Prize, which is one of the most prestigious awards in the mystery novels category in Japan. 2006 Honkaku Mystery Best 10 and Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! 2006, annual mystery fiction guide books published in Japan, ranked the novel as the number one.

The English translation was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Barry Award for Best First Novel.


We read this in April 2013.

Jill’s summary of the meeting attended by 11 people:

On the whole this book was less enjoyed than other more recent books but with widely diverging views on all aspects.  Those with some experience in reading (and watching) crime and detection were not very impressed by the mystery/puzzle – at least one person thought the solution was obvious very early on. Those with less experience and perhaps a dislike of crime/detection tended to be more impressed by the puzzle and completely surprised by the revelations at the end.

The characters were felt to be rather stereotyped and often not very convincing and it was generally felt that little character development took place.

Several people felt disappointed that they got very little sense of life in Japan.

Scores ranged from 1 to 9 with an average of just over 5.

Even though the book was generally not particularly enjoyed the discussion was interesting because people’s opinions varied so greatly.

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1 Comment

  1. malcolmbbc

     /  April 22, 2013

    For me, the interest of this thriller was that it doesn’t follow the usual format. We are used to novels where there is the discovery of a murder, which is then gradually unravelled through the efforts of our hero/detective. In this book, we witness a murder and then follow attempts to cover it up. We follow the efforts of both the police and those that they are chasing.

    Unusually, the police are secondary to the efforts of a couple of academics. A major character involved in the cover-up is Ishigami, a brilliant mathematician who finds himself stuck teaching unambitious school students. The police have turned for help to another academic – Yukawa, a university professor and by coincidence, a former classmate of Ishigami. (Yakawa is the so-called “Detective Galileo” referred to in the Wikipedia article).

    Whilst the set-up ensures that the story avoids many of the usual clichés of this genre, I was not sure about its realism. OK, so I’m unfamiliar with Japanese police procedures, but it seems odd that the detective seems quite comfortable talking freely about a murder case with an academic on the basis that he’s an old friend. Its even odder that this academic in turn talks openly with one of the chief suspects.

    As for the twist at the end, I didn’t predict it in advance so I was suitably impressed. But if anyone’s interested, my nomination for the “best twist ever (crime fiction category)”, I would nominate Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”.


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