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‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ by Keigo Higashino ***

My first encounter with Keigo Higashino’s works was by watching some adaptations of his novels on Japanese television, and, being a mystery lover already, I fell in love with his witty and subversive plots (my favourite tv show adaptation was “Ryuusei no Kizuna” (also known as “Ties of Shooting Stars”), but sadly the book hasn’t been translated in English – I should polish my Japanese soon so I can read it!). Needless to say, when I came across The Devotion of Suspect X, I ended up purchasing it in a heartbeat.

In The Devotion of Suspect X, Detective Kusanagi investigates a crime that is almost too perfect to be true. He seeks the help of Yukawa, a physicist who is incredibly apt to solving such mysteries and cases. This case in particular seems to be of great interest to him, since a former college colleague of his, Ishigami, a mathematician, appears to somehow be involved in this, as he is the neighbour of the prime suspect for this case, Yasuko Hanaoka.

Reading Higashino’s works is so very different from watching it. Taking into account that he is one of Japan’s best-selling authors is an adequate enough argument for the simplicity of his prose. Surely, due to the nature of his books, Higashino uses a lot of jargon from the field of mathematics and physics, but his writing style in general is quite easy to go through.

This book is so different from any other crime or mystery novels I’ve read so far. It’s not like the typical crime novel where you try to find who the culprit is – that’s information that’s already given to you from the very first chapters of the book. It’s also not like most of the Japanese crime novels I’ve encountered before, where you already know who comitted the crime. It is truly about the psychological state of the murderer and how they cope with what they have done more than about the crime itself.

The Devotion of Suspect X combines all these elements and diverts from them at the same time. Having started this book by being absolutely convinced I would adore it, I must admit that I had quite a few moments of doubt whilst reading it. The double perspective of the culprit (who knows everything) and the police investigators (who know but a few things) is certainly interesting, but I couldn’t find how that contributed to the plot overall. Also, I thought that the narrowing down of the suspects by the police came about in a bit of an absolute and sudden manner – one would expect them to investigate a bit further before deciding on pinpointing someone.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this book. It is definitely not one of Higashino’s best and the final plot twist is not as impressive as it would have been if the reader was unaware of the culprit from the set out. Still, it was a fast-paced mystery that makes you question the depth of human relationships and the human psyche more than anything else. The final question that this book will probably leave you pondering is how deeply can a person be devoted to another and in what lengths can this devotion actually lead someone?

I read this book as part of both the Japanese Literature Challenge 9 and the 20 Books of Summer challenge.

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Some More Reading Challenges

 

I recently stumbled upon some fantastic reading challenges, and even though I already have a couple of them still running, I couldn’t resist joining in those as well.

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Austen in August

Sometimes I feel ashamed that I haven’t yet read the entirety of Jane Austen’s books, so I think I found the best opportunity to mend this situation with the Austen in August challenge. Hosted by the lovely Roof Beam Reader, this is a challenge I’m really excited about. I don’t know if I’ll manage to read all of the books I have planned for it (since some non-fiction is included as well), but I’m hoping to get through most of them at least. So, my list is as follows:

  • Emma
  • Sense and Sensibility (which I don’t own a copy of yet)
  • Jane Austen by Carol Shields
  • Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England by Roy & Lesley Adkins

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(I had originally planned on including Persuasion as well, but I couldn’t resist the urge to read it now, so I have already started this one. I’m not including it in my list, but I’ll post my review on it during August.)

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Japanese Literature Challenge 9

Hosted by the wonderful Dolce Belezza, this challenge runs from June 2015 to January 2016. The aim is to read at least one Japanese book during those months. I have quite a few unread Japanese books on my shelves, and I certainly plan on purchasing a few more I really want to read in the following months, so when I stumbled upon this challenge I immediately knew I had to jump in. Now, about my list. I have included so far only the books I currently own, but since I certainly plan on getting some more Japanese books, the list will most likely change. In any case, my (temporary) list is this:

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  • Tokyo Express by Seicho Matsumoto
  • Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse
  • Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology edited by Ivan Morris
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi by Junichiro Tanizaki
  • Koritsuita Kaori by Yoko Ogawa (it’s not translated in English and since I have the Greek translation, I’m listing it with its Japanese title)
  • Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino
  • Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara
  • The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue
  • Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  • The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (I feel this is going to be included in every month’s reading list until I finally finish it..)

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The last challenge I plan on participating for now, is hosted by the wonderful Cathy746books. I will not compose a list of books I plan to read for this challenge, since I feel I’m not going to stick to it if I do. With my birthday book haul coming closer and the books for all the challenges I’ve already participated in, I think I will have plenty of material to fill up the 20 books for this challenge. Since I’m a mood reader mostly, I would hate to have a set list and then divert from it because I feel more like reading another book which isn’t on my list.

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Challenge: 20 Books of Summer 2015

The lovely Cathy at 746 Books hosts a wonderful summer challenge which runs between the start of June and the start of September, in which she chooses twenty books to read and blog about (more about the challenge here).  I have chosen to make my own list of twenty books; I am ideally hoping to read more than this, but with a large University reading list looming, I’m not actually sure how much reading for pleasure I will be able to do in the coming months.

I have chosen only books from my physical to-read pile, with one exception.  Whilst there are many books on my Kindle which I am very much looking forward to, they are not taking up vital shelf space, and can thus wait for a later date.  I have tried to make my list as varied as possible, but have mainly included hefty non-fiction tomes which I know will sit on my shelves gathering dust if I don’t do anything about them soon.

Without further ado, here is my 2015 list:

1. Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke (Kindle)20-books-of-summer-master-image
2. Of Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant
3. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
4. Stalin and His Hangmen by Donald Rayfield
5. The Kit-Cat Club by Ophelia Field
6. My American by Stella Gibbons
7. The End: Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw
8. War and Peace (Volume I) by Leo Tolstoy
9. The World That Was Ours by Hilda Bernstein
10. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
11. Love, Sex, Death and Words by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender
12. Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge
13. The Sunflower by Rebecca West
14. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
15. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald
16. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
17. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
18. Mary, Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser
19. J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys by Andrew Birkin
20. Fortress Malta: An Island Under Siege by James Holland