Translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander
Five words from the blurb: Tokyo, ex-husband, shattered, Police, genius
I hadn’t heard of this book until one of my sister’s friends recommended it to me, but I love Japanese thrillers and so decided to give it a try. I’m pleased that I bought a copy because I’ll be recommending this intelligent thriller to everyone.
The Devotion of Suspect X begins with a woman murdering her ex-husband with the help of her daughter. Their neighbour hears the crime and offers to help dispose of the body, beginning a gripping narrative that centres on the question: Will they get away with it?
The premise is very similar to Out by Natsuo Kirino (my favourite thriller), but The Devotion of Suspect X is a much lighter novel. It is quicker and easier to read and doesn’t contain the same level of violence or dark emotion. For this reason I’d recommend it to those trying Japanese fiction for the first time.
The plotting in this book is perfect. There are no unnecessary scenes and the pace is relentlessly intriguing throughout. The main battle of wits is between the neighbour, a maths genius, and a friend of the police officer who happens to be a physics genius. I admit that this scenario is unlikely to occur, but I didn’t care because it led to one of the cleverest series of twists I’ve come across.
The characters were all well formed, with interesting flaws. I didn’t develop an emotional attachment to any of them, but this ended up being a positive as I found myself rooting for both sides equally. This is quite unusual in a police procedural as I normally find myself less interested in one of the plot threads.
The Devotion of Suspect X is a perfect thriller. It isn’t particularly deep or meaningful, but it is endlessly entertaining. I can see why it sold 2 million copies in Japan and I hope that word-of-mouth spreads it around the world.