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  • Writer's pictureAnanya Ak

Keigo Higashino's Devotion of Suspect X Left Me Speechless

The book, Devotion of Suspect X, kept on the back tire of a bicycle. Above the book are two movie ticket stubs. There's an arrow pointing from the cycle, to text that says, "Because I love cycling. And because this is new. No relation to the plot. Not at all! It's not like I changed my entire theme around the cycle or anything. Bwahahahahaha."

When a friend of mine told me that The Devotion of Suspect X, one of my highly anticipated reads, inspired Drishyam, the bubble of my anticipation just…burst.

Drishyam is one of my favourite movies of all time, and the thought that its plot was adapted from a book made me feel weird inside, and I lost a little bit of respect for the movie.

So, I put it off for a couple of months. But I still wanted to read it, so I finally got to it as part of the #continentalreadathon, prompt – Asia.


Yasuko, a single mother living alone with her only daughter, wasn't asking for trouble. She was living her life peacefully, working at a lunchbox shop under a kind boss.

But trouble comes knocking at her door, literally, in the form of her ex-husband. The events of that night shatter her peace and put her and her daughter in danger...

Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to find out what happened that night, but he's only running around in circles. It's one of the most complex, puzzling cases of his career, and nothing quite makes sense...

Ride the roller-coaster with Detective Kusanagi, his friend, nicknamed Detective Galileo and their team as they try to navigate the complexities of this puzzling case!

PS: The book is translated from Japanese by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander, and kudos to them for their impeccable work!

My thoughts

At first, it did remind me of Drishyam, to be honest. The murderer, the meticulous planning of the alibi, even the motive, all pointed towards a story I already knew.

In that first half (or so), I felt like I was revisiting a much-loved movie. It was, in equal parts, disappointing (because it was predictable) and nostalgic (because, well…I loved the movie!).

The author lulled me into the belief that I already knew what would happen (although he obviously didn’t mean to – the movie came after the book :P)

By the time I was halfway through the book, though, I realised that it was deviating, bit by bit, from the story I knew – the alibis themselves were different, the details the police were focusing on were different, and the characters, of course, were different as well.

Gradually, I stopped reminiscing about the movie and started marvelling at the deviations. I was pulled into the story and puzzled by every inconsistency. But the author gave me no time to unravel the puzzle by myself.

While I turned one cryptic statement over in my head, the book had already given me another detail to mull over, and nothing made much sense until it was all revealed in the end.

The killer is revealed at the very start of the book, and you’d expect a story in which the killer is already known to be predictable. Well, Keigo Higashino, in all his brilliance, takes that conventional thought process and turns it on its head with this masterpiece.

I was gobsmacked at the ending.

When it all finally made sense, I had literal tears in my eyes, because it was so good. All I could think when everything came together was, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH!” So much for being a writer! All my eloquence vanished into thin air.

I can easily say that this is my favourite thriller read this year (probably my favourite ever)! The author impressed me so much with this one book that I went and bought everything he wrote that I could get my hands on.

The only problem with this book, I think, is that it has irrevocably amplified my standards for thrillers, and I don’t think I’d enjoy a more predictable or slower-paced thriller in the future. Thanks, Higashino. Thanks a lot.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes thrillers, or who wants to start reading thrillers. It’s simply written and engaging, so I also recommend it to beginner readers. I’d actually recommend this book to anyone who’d listen, but I know that thriller is not everyone’s cup of tea. So, well, if thriller isn’t your thing, don’t read this!

About the Author

Keigo Higashino
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Born in Osaka in 1958, Keigo Higashino’s family name originally read as “Tono”, but his father changed it to “Higashino”. He grew up in a working-class area and had a tough childhood because his family belonged to a lower class. He started reading mystery fiction in high school.

He went on to study Electrical Engineering at Osaka Prefecture University, where he became captain of the archery club (archery is such a cool sport, no?). He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree.

He started writing in high school and continued through university. Even while working as an engineer, he wrote in the evenings and on weekends, submitting his unpublished mystery novels for the annual Edogawa Rampo Prize. He finally won in 1985 (for his debut novel Hokago (After School), which drew on his experiences at the archery club).

The rest, as they say, is history. He went on to win several awards for his works, and many books written by him have been adapted into movies.

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