Editor reviews

On one level, The Devotion of Suspect X channels the vogue for offbeat psychological thrillers: a cerebral criminal, a physicist who moonlights as detective, lengthy mathematical discursions, all framed by a prose style that is as cool as a blade’s surface. But behind this is an essentially conventional tale of obsessive love and loneliness, and it’s this which drives the narrative onwards — the quasi-intellectual trappings don’t quite mesh with the narrative to make an organic whole. Even a significant twist towards the end doesn’t fundamentally alter how we perceive the preceding events. Columbo-like, we know the identity of the guilty party from the start: the pleasure of the story is in seeing if and how they deal with their consciences and the police investigation.
The excellent David Pittu works hard at extracting every nuance, shade, and layer from the serviceable text. He seems to be able to anticipate the listener's own imaginative perception — just where you'd imagine a tremor in the voice, or something spoken through gritted teeth, or with a sigh, he delivers just that, and right on time. It's uncanny. Where he comes up short is his performance of Yasuko, the single mother victimized by her ex-husband. Pittu portrays her with a tongue-tied gentleness, all downcast eyes and suppressed sighs; this sorrowful passivity in such a central character grates, becoming a reductive reminder of her victim status. But its author Higashino who must take the blame for this; Yasuko is a former nightclub hostess, which opens up all kinds of character possibilities and tensions that just aren't present here. Her relationship with her teen daughter is vitally important to the plot, but the daughter herself gets short shrift until a dramatic development only serves to underscore her absence from the book's main narrative.
Another cipher is Dr. Yukawa, the physicist who is called in to offer gnomish words of wisdom in some kind of consultancy capacity. He’s the star of a series of books published in Japan, and it’s a testament to the underlying efficiency and dramatic pull of the core story here that, despite the limited ambitions of this particular outing, listeners will certainly want to hear more from this potentially gripping franchise. —Dafydd Phillips
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Summary

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step. When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko’s manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there’s something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.
©2005 Keigo Higashino (P)2010 Macmillan Audio. A Macmillan Audiobook from Minotaur Books
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By richard on 04-10-13

Ultimately disappointed

What did you like best about The Devotion of Suspect X? What did you like least?

This was an excellent story which I thoroughly enjoyed up until the point of the confession. It could have ended so much better than it did and I wish the author would rewrite the ending.

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1 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Howard on 13-02-11

Devoted tale of kindness and unknown friendship.

There is an old saying about a friend will help you move, but a real friend will help you move a body. This is an above average story exploring the latter. A lonely math nerd comes to the aid of a single mother and her teenage daughter. The story pulls you along, forcing you to compete with the characters as they practice their deception or those seeking the truth. I spent the first few chapters (if not half the story) trying to decide which character was my hero only to conclude each had their own integrity, values and redeeming qualities. This is not your typical crime mystery - it's so much more. I greatly enjoyed it and hope you do too.

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37 of 38 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By connie on 04-02-11

not really like Larsson -- but that's OK

This seemed to me more akin to PD James ---more a psychological why-dunnit and how-dunnit than a who-dunnit, more about the character and plot than action, but (at least in translation) the novel does not have James' tight prose. It's about the personal more than the political, even if the central event does highlight domestic abuse. Glimpses of Japanese society add interest. Happily it's not another cookie cutter ???edge of seat??? violent thriller. Neither is the psychology too dark. I found the narration good but not outstanding.

It's an original mystery for fans of global gumshoes (and this time the shoe is on the other foot). Well worth a listen.

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82 of 87 people found this review helpful

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