“Which is harder: devising an unsolvable problem, or solving that problem?”
Ex-husband Shinji Togashi suddenly appears at Yasuko Hanaoka’s apartment. She lives together with Misato, her daughter from a previous relationship. After years of peace, he comes back to his ex-wife and harasses her again. During his visit at Yasuko’s apartment, he threatens his ex-wife and her daughter, which leads to quarreling and violence, and in the end to Shinji’s death.
The neighbor Tetsuya Ishigami overhears everything through the wall to his adjacent apartment. He wants to protect them and dissuades both Yasuko and her daughter from the idea of turning themselves in to the police. He helps them to clean the appartment and makes the body disappear. Ishigami plans a meticulous alibi for all, gives instructions on how they should behave during interrogations, and along the following events interferes more and more in their private matters. When Yasuko falls in love with another man named Kudo, the tide turns.
The police investigation is supported by Manabu Yukawa, a physics professor who is often consulted by the police, aka Detective Galileo. He is also a former college friend of Ishigami, whom he knows as a mathematical genius.
Through this criminal case the two friends from the past meet again. Ishigami turns the criminal case into a seemingly unsolvable puzzle with his ingenuity. Yukawa tries to solve the case: Ishigami “presented me with a mathematical conundrum,”… “It’s a famous one, the P = NP problem. Basically, it asks whether it’s more difficult to think of the solution to a problem yourself or to ascertain if someone else’s answer to the same problem is correct.”
“The Devotion of Suspect X” (容疑者Xの献身) was first published in Japan in 2005. It is part of a book series with “Detective Galileo“. Higashino Keigo won the Naoki Award and the Honkaku Mystery Award for this novel in 2006. It was also made into a Japanese movie in 2008 and was adapted by international film makers.
Higashino Keigo is a famous writer of mainly mystery novels and was also president of the association “Mystery Writers of Japan” from 2009 to 2013. Many of his works were translated into several languages:
- “Naoko” is his famous first novel.
- The Galileo book series includes short story collections and novels. Four of them are available in English.
- Higashino Keigo wrote another famous series featuring police detective Kaga,
- and many stand alone novels.
“The Devotion of Suspect X” is interesting because the reader follows the thoughts and assumptions of the main protagonists. It is a fast paced brilliant story of an intelligent play of two geniuses.
東野 圭吾: 容疑者Xの献身, 2005.
Higashino Keigo: The Devotion of Suspect X, translated by Alexander O. Smith, 2011.