The Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Author:Keigo Higashino
Originally published in Japanese(2006)
Translated by: Alexander O Smith & Elye J Alexander(2012)
Published by: Abacus for Hachette India
Price:INR 350/-
Source:Blogadda book review program

Nikhimenon says:

                Keigo Higashino's 'The Devotion of Suspect X' was a special book for me for more than one reasons.It was not only a fascinating read but also one of the first books I had received from blogadda as a part of their book review program. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and exactly a year later,I am here,reviewing Higashino's 'The salvation of a saint',again sent for review by the same wonderful people at blogadda.Before proceeding to the review,let me admit that this book,I believe is one of the best works to have ever featured in their review program.
The story-Ayane,a well known patchwork quilter is married to Yoshitaka,who is the CEO of an I.T. firm.Their marriage is on the verge of a divorce ,the reason for which he tells, is her inability to conceive.But Ayane is no idiot as she very well knows that her husband is having an illicit affair with her own apprentice, the beautiful Hiromi Wakayama. So,when he is found dead in his house, quite naturally,Ayane becomes the prime suspect.But how could have she pulled it off when she herself was hundreds of miles away,when the murder happened?Enter detective Kusanagi(whom we had earlier seen in ‘Suspect X’) and his new recruit ,the young,intelligent and enthusiastic female assistant Kaoru Utsumi.But when Kusanagi finds falling for Ayane's elusive charms,Utsumi secretly seeks the assistance of Yukawa,the physics professor at Imperial university(the same ‘Inspector Galileo’ from ‘The Suspect X’)to solve the mystery.
The characters-One of the major highlights of Higashino’s previous work was the believability of it’s characters.The same can be said about this book too.All the characters are tangible and believable and the reader can easily relate to the emotional turmoil which each of one of them is going through.As i had mentioned before ,a couple of the major characters from the earlier book (Kusanagi,Yukawa) make their appearances here also.Higashino has the uncanny knack of writing strong female characters and things aren’t different here either.Neither of them,be it the enthusiastic female detective(Kaoru Utsumi),nor the wife(Ayane)-mistress(Hiromi)duo are mere props in the narrative.But for me,the  pick of the lot is definitely Mrs Mashiba,who appears intelligent,cool,calm and calculative through out the proceedings.On the flip side,i found the behaviour of kusanagi a bit weird at times(not going on to the details as I don’t wish to spoil the fun for those who haven’t read the book yet).
The writing-Quite like Higashino’s previous one,this book is also a page turner.But what makes it different from 'Suspect X' is that the identity of the killer isn’t revealed in the beginning itself here.Infact except for a minor clue which the reader gets to know towards the end of the first chapter(“guess,I’ll be using that soon”...,she thought),the true identity of the killer,his/her motive,modus operandi et al are kept concealed till the end.Higashino manages to keep the reader guessing for a pretty long time without breaking the suspence.The climax is a killer twist and i don’t think even the hardcore fans of the genre will be able to foresee what is in store for them!Last but not the least,I must say that both Alexander O Smith and Elye J have done a brilliant job in translating this masterpiece from Japanese.
 What I liked the most about the book
1.The scenes between Ayane and Hiromi.
2.The scene in which Yukawa gives Kusanagi the example of the dinosaur fossils to point out the potential error of judgement in the course of their investigation.
What I didn’t like-
1.It took me some time to get acquainted with the principal characters.To be frank,I definitely believe that the average Indian reader will find it a bit tough to recall their names initially(especially while reading the first two chapters when too many characters with pretty ‘unusual names’ are introduced in quick succession).
2.Towards the second half of the book,the pace slackens a bit and after a point it becomes slightly tedious.
3.The characters(especially the investigators) converse and speculate a lot in the story.I wish there were more plot twists and thrilling sequences instead.
Verdict-On the whole,’The Salvation Of Saint’ is a decent thriller.It may not be as racy as ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’,but still it’s a pretty good one. Rating-3.9/5

Swarnali Speaks :

After having read, loved and reviewed the previous Yukawa and Kusanagi book by Higashino, Devotion of Suspect X, I was dying to read this one. When put it up for the review program, I just jumped and applied. And I can happily say that everybody who liked the previous one will like this one as much. The book manages to capture your interest and hold on to it till the very last word as you cannot help but keep flipping pages without a break. The book is so complex (and yet so simple) that not in a million years can the readers conclude what could have possibly been the manner of death even though the author gives sufficient clues about the possible motive. Therein, lies the genius of Higashino.

The book starts with the suspicious death by poisoning of Yoshitaka Mashiba in his own house in the absence of anybody. What starts with the assumption of a suicide turns out to be a very carefully planned cold blooded murder committed by somebody with an immense patience and eye for detail. Like the previous book, Higashino almost declares the crime and the murderer. The only difference with the last would be the fact that here, the murderer is not so explicitly pointed at. A few lines in the opening chapter ("That's why you have to die, too") and the blurb in the back cover can give one a hint about the same but the reader is kept guessing as to how the crime could be possibly done by the character who is the prime suspect.

The book is very similar to the last one in the sense that this too is a whodunit / howdunit where unraveling the mystery behind the murderer or manner of the crime is given more importance than the crime in itself. Even though it does manages to thrill and keep the readers on the edge with the twists surprise, the structure resembles a whodunit (derivative from who dunn it) more than a traditional thriller. I loved the fact that this book has a deeper character analysis in terms of the pasts of both Kusanagi and Yukawa. More attention has been paid to their personal and working relationship and a romantic angle to Detective Kusanagi's character has also been dealt with. As in the previous book, the reader cannot help but sympathize with the murderer even after knowing the horrific deed they committed.

The only few problems with the book would be the Japanese names which I found very hard to remember (like the last time). Even though the book has a great plot and fluid progression, the pace is somewhat slow in the beginning (first 100 pages approximately) where the author builds up the ideas. But, however, the story moves at breakneck speed towards the end as we are told how exactly the crime took place. The readers are awed as the perfect murder has been committed with the murderer having done nothing  literally. The theoretically possible yet practically impossible (almost) to achieve feat by the murderer is simply mind-blowing. Recommended to all mystery and crime fiction lovers.

Rating : 4.5 / 5 (The 0.5 marks less for the slow pace in the beginning)

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