The Devotion of Suspect X is a thriller novel originally written in Japanese by Keigo Higashino which unfolds over 374 pages an incredible murder mystery. A normal murder mystery proceeds in the direction of revealing the murderer towards the end. However, this novel proceeds in the reverse direction where we know who the murderer is in the first chapter of the novel itself and then we see how that murderer is protected from being convicted of that crime by following the instructions given by a genius mathematician. As the story unfolds, the reader thinks that he is getting insight into the plan devised by that genius to protect the murderer, but at the end, the reader is totally deceived when the actual plan of that genius mathematician is revealed by another genius, who happens to be a friend of that mathematician.
The story begins by describing a normal day in the quiet and simple life of a maths school teacher, Ishigami, his passion for mathematics and his silent one-sided love for her neighbor, Yasuko, a single mother staying with her daughter, Misato. However, one day, things change when Yasuko is visited by her abusive ex-husband at her apartment. She and her daughter have a confrontation with him in which trying to save themselves, they end up strangling him. Ishigami, being next door, comes to know about what she has done and offers to help her dispose of the dead body and promises to protect them from being convicted if they precisely follow his instructions.
Once the detectives start investigating the murder case, they start suspecting Yasuko, cross-questioning her and following her secretly in hope to unveil evidences against her. But none of these helps them in discovering solid evidence against her. Ishigami, had already considered all these possibilities and all the possible equations and seems to have devised a water-tight plan to protect her. However, his plan starts falling away, as he hadn’t considered devising his plan for an unknown variable, his college friend, Yukawa, who was a genius physicist and is very good at making subtle observations. I don’t wish to spoil the suspense by revealing more about the plot.
The novel is fast-paced and has a flowing narrative which keeps the reader interested all the time to read a few more pages and so on, until he ends up reading it completely. I have never read before a 350+ pages novel in a single day. The ending of this novel is a killer twist and one will appreciate the plan devised by the mathematician who deceived not only the detectives but also the reader. And how elegantly, the plan was based on a simple yet elegant thought that sometimes to conceal a truth, you must tell a truth.
Apart from the brilliant murder mystery, one finds some true observations made about human nature made by the mathematician to deceive humans and made by the physicist to catch the deception. If one is interested in murder mysteries, this is one book which is definitely worth their time. A fascinating tale of crime and wit.