The Devotion of Suspect X : Book Review

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

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Love, Life & all that Jazz : Book Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Love, Life & all that Jazz, a book written by Ahmed Faiyaz, as the title suggests is a book that through its plot and characters touches the delicate issues of modern times like Love, Career, Relationship, Family, Dreams, Money, the associated complications and all that jazz which orchestrate the choices and the decisions we take in our life. Although, the book covers so many different issues, the flowing narrative ensures that you wouldn’t feel that an issue has been abruptly introduced into the storyline. The storyline revolves around a group of college friends – how their life changes after graduation, how their career paths makes it tough for them to find time to hang out more often, how the relationships in their life turn out to complicate their life even more, how they try to balance work and life and how their life goes on despite all that jazz.

The lead characters of this novel are Tanveer, Sameer, Vikram and Tania. One could easily relate to one of these characters or in part with a few of them. In the first scene, all of them meet up over a cup of chai. As their discussion unfolds and with the help of narration, we get an insight into how these characters differ in their background and how different their priorities in Life is.

Tanveer hailed from a small town Sholapur and his middle-class family had very orthodox values. His family expected their son to share their economic burden. Tanveer worked hard to meet their expectations. In contrast to Tanveer, others belonged to affluent families. Others had different priorities like establishing their career as soon as possible. Unlike Tanveer, Vikram belonged to a modern family in which his parents shared the house but not their lives. He had a carefree attitude in life so far in college. However, he was now thinking seriously about what he wanted to do in his life. The only thing he was sure about was that he didn’t want to join his dad’s business. Sameer and Tania had been in a serious relationship since college days. However, with Sameer planning to leave to study abroad for MBA, they were worried about how they would be able to maintain their long-distance relationship while establishing their careers.

The book has been divided into 31 chapters grouped together into six parts namely Change, Together, Falling Apart, Another Life, Love and Longing and Living your Dreams. Over these six parts, the author narrates how the unexpected events unfold in the life of these central characters which shatter them emotionally, then how they pick themselves up and try to get along with life and how finally at the end, the roller-coaster ride in life seems to be heading towards a happy ending for everyone.

The author has also touched some of the existing stark realities in our society like opposition to inter-religion marriages, the casting couch issue in film industry, racism faced by Asians in foreign countries and overloading the employee at work. The events and characters described in the novel are very real-life and relatable, and hence, it strikes a chord with the reader instantly. The language used throughout the book is simple and very casual, and goes along well with the pacey narrative.

I find the book to be a good, breezy read that gives you an insight into the common issues of modern times. Although, one may argue that despite all the issues depicted in the lives of central characters, finally the book ends with a stereotypical ‘happy ending’. However, I feel it would be wrong to put away this book as just another Indian author’s book where in the end ‘All is Well’, as sometimes the optimism is a realistic need in our lives.

(This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books. This was my 4th book review for Blogadda :))

Harbart: Book review

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The cover page


Harbart’ is a fictional novel written by Nabarun Bhattacharya in Bengali and published in 1993. It has been recently translated into English by Arunava Sinha. It falls under the genre of black humor. It was his first novel and it won him the Narsimha Das Award, Bankim Puraskar and Sahitya Akademi Award. This novel was adapted into a film by the same name in 2005, by Suman Mukhopadhyay.

The storyline revolves around the protagonist, Harbart Sarkar – his early childhood trauma with death of his parents before he could even walk, his upbringing in neglected circumstances, his eccentric thoughts and activities, his sudden rise to fame after an unexpected event which changed his life, the adulation in neighborhood for being someone who could act as a medium to communicate with dead people, the establishment of a business that brings messages from the dead to their near and dear ones left behind on earth, the steady rise in fame for his unique skill and the steady rise in his greed, the accusations from a rationalists organization on him of being a crook and the threat of being exposed publicly and handed over to police, the depression that leads him to commit suicide and then eventually, his cremation event which mysteriously turns into an explosive event.  In a nutshell, the story is about an eccentric character, Harbart, his strange thoughts, his rise and his fall.

As often is the case with reading translated works, one is not sure if the charm and the essence of original work have been retained in the translated work.  Since, I have read only the translated work, I would comment only on basis of that. Although, the book was just 147 pages long, I had a tough time completing it because of some inherent flaws in this translated version.  I do not mean disrespect to the renowned translator, Arunava Sinha, as I understand that translating works and retaining the essence is not an easy task. However, personally I found the following defects in this translation which may or may not have been part of the original version.

Firstly, there was a lack of demarcation of indirect speech from the direct speech. Throughout the novel, the double quotes were not used to separate out the dialogues from the inner thoughts of characters. It became very difficult to keep track of a conversation due to lack of double quotes.  Secondly, the translator seemed to be under the notion that using the words like “Fuck, Cunt, Tit, Cock” at regular intervals, like at least once in every ten sentences, would upmarket the novel for an interesting read for the urban English readers. I am not sure what the original words were in the original Bengali novel (published in 1993) which would translate to such words. And at places, he has translated some expletives based on their literal meaning to English, like “strands of pubic hair” which would make no sense to an English reader unaware of its Hindi or Bengali equivalent. And thirdly, the description of events and surroundings seemed to be abrupt and a consistent, interesting flow required for reading a novel appeared to be missing.

However, if I overlook these flaws, I would say the storyline is decent and I think the original version would have been definitely worth a read. My final words would be if you could read Bengali, then you should try reading the original version of this novel. However, if you don’t know Bengali, I would advise you to hold on to your bucks.

(This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!)