The title of the book is enough to let you know that this is not a book belonging to the romantic genre.
It is not even a murder mystery per se because by the end of Chapter 1 the stage is set for murder and in the very beginning of Chapter 2 the deed is done right infront of your eyes and you, the reader, for sure knows who did it. But then I don't think it is right to not label The Devotion of Suspect X as "not" a thriller or a mystery. So where do we put this part suspense and part philosophy novel by the Japanese writer Keigo Higashino?
The story revolves around a single mother, Yasuko Hanaoka, an ex-night hostess now working in a shop selling boxed lunches, and her next door neighbour Ishigami, a high school maths teacher.
The book begins with him leaving house to go to the shop to buy lunch. Here we are introduced to the city they live in and quietly to an other important character in the book- the surroundings. This is also where the author's immense talent lies but of which you remain oblivious till the very end of the book.
Anyhow, Yasuko is one night visited by her ex husband Togashi who is a loathful creature and is bent on extracting money from his ex-wife. Her daughter Misato hits him with a vase when he is putting on his shoes after taking the money and making offensive comments about Misato and he goes charging at her. In an attempt to save her child, Yasuko looks for a weapon and reaches for an electrical wire and ends up strangulating Togashi.
Ishigami steps into the picture just a while later, having heard commotion from his neighbour's apartment and he takes on himself to save the women. He plans everything and gives them detailed instructions on their alibi and what to do going forward.
We are gradually introduced to the genius of Ishigami through an ex classmate and Physicist Yukawa, who also likes sleuthing and has also previously helped Kusanagi, the detective on this case, crack other cases. In fact, the whole truth comes out via Yukawa and when it does, it will take your breath away as you realise the extent of the devotion of suspect X, as Ishigami is referred to as, maybe once or twice, in the whole book.
I can't say I was very happy with way the book ended but after mulling it over in my head I think that that was the most logical conclusion like in our hindi films where no wrong goes unpunished.
I liked this book for its subtelty though I can imagine it getting a bit slow as far as action is concerned. It is a peek into the everyday lives and activities of these characters and their surroundings, and it is very easy to loose interest in ongoing description of road, stations, river, shanties and homeless people living there.