The Devotion of Suspect X and Malice

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Average Rating : 3.5/5

Normally, in crime investigation novels, it’s always a murder followed by a list of suspects and the detective trying to figure out who the murderer is by various methods- visiting numerous places and questioning potential suspects, taking the reader along with them in their exciting journey. The reader too, tries to put all the minute details together, eliminate the suspects and tries to guess who the murderer could be, just like the leading detective. Keigo Higashino’s novels follow a completely different approach which makes the reading ride more interesting and challenging. These crime novels aren’t Whodunnit but Howdunnit.

The first book I read of his works was Malice. In this book, just like in any other novel, the murder happens and the detectives come in, they hunt for clues and acquire forensics. I found nothing out of the ordinary till then. But even before the half way mark, the murderer is dramatically revealed not only to take the readers by surprise but also the detectives; just that, the detectives have no clue how the murderer did it, especially when he/she have an airtight alibi and no motive whatsoever to have committed the crime. The detectives crack their brains, so does the readers, to prove the crime was indeed committed by the so-and-so.

The murder is simple; the way the murderer covers the trace and pushes the detectives to work very hard to get him/her is marvellous. Out of the two books, I loved Malice more than The Devotion of Suspect X. I found the backstory, or say the depth of the murderer’s character better in Malice compared to the other.

Keigo Higashino is a Japanese author. I read his works in English translation and found it really impactful. I am sure it would have been even better in the native language. What makes his work so interesting is, he doesn’t try too hard to make things sound or the situations sound too complicated. His characters are simple with a modest background which isn’t touched unless necessary. Even though the Japanese names are a little complicated to remember, it stays in your mind. It does ring a little funny at the beginning, but that’s probably how the rest of the world sees our names.

I am looking forward to read the rest of his works- Journey under a Midnight Sun and Salvation of a Saint. I assume both the books follow the same MO as the above two works, something completely different from the normal crime fiction.

I would strongly recommend reading Malice over The Devotion of Suspect X, in case you want to choose only one of the two.  I hope you choose both.

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