Salvation of a Saint

Author: Keigo Higashino
Translator: Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander
U.S. publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9780312600686
Released: October 2012
Original release: 2008

Salvation of a Saint is the third novel by Keigo Higashino to be translated into English (and the third that I have read), following Naoko and The Devotion of Suspect X. Salvation of a Saint is the fifth book in Higashino’s Detective Galileo series (The Devotion of Suspect X is the third). But, like many mystery series, the individual Detective Galileo volumes are largely able to stand on their own. Salvation of a Saint was first published in Japan in 2008. Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander’s English translation was released in 2012 by Minotaur, the mystery and suspense imprint of St. Martin’s Press. I enjoyed both Naoko and The Devotion of Suspect X immensely; I was very excited to learn that Salvation of a Saint was being released in English. Even though technically published out of order, I am very glad to have the opportunity to read more Detective Galileo.

When Yoshitaka Mashiba is found poisoned in his home, the Tokyo police have their work cut out for them. It doesn’t appear to be a suicide and yet he doesn’t seem to have made any enemies, either. The only person with a clear motive is Yoshitaka’s wife, Ayane, except that she was in Hokkaido visiting her parents at the time of his death. The more the detectives investigate, the more is revealed about the Mashibas’ personal lives. Detectives Kusanagi and Utsumi have developed plenty of theories explaining Yoshitaka’s death, but they still need to find the evidence to support them. Eventually Utsumi calls upon Manabu Yukawa, a physicist who has helped to solve past cases, earning him the nickname of “Detective Galileo.” Even though he isn’t interested in working with the police after having a falling out with Kusanagi, Yukawa is intrigued by what at first appears to be the perfect crime.

It’s fairly clear, to the readers at least, who the culprit in Salvation of a Saint actually is. In this way, Salvation of a Saint is similar to The Devotion of Suspect X. However, each novel is filled with their own unexpected story twists. It’s not just important who committed the crime in Salvation of a Saint; much of the mystery focuses on how the person was even able to pull it off. Even the motive behind Yoshitaka’s murder is revealed to be much more complicated and involved than initially thought. Once again, Higashino has written and engaging and compelling scenario. I didn’t find it to be as emotionally hard-hitting as The Devotion of Suspect X, but Salvation of a Saint was still surprising. The novel is a clever page-turner. Once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put the novel down. I picked up on all of the clues that Higashino dropped and felt compelled to finish the book quickly in order to discover how they all fit together.

Salvation of a Saint isn’t an action-packed thriller. In fact, there is a lot of dialogue and discussion as the investigators work things out. But, the novel is still intellectually invigorating and very satisfying. I’m quite fond of Professor Yukawa. The series may take its name from him, but he’s almost a supporting character. I particularly enjoyed the scenes that he shared with Detective Kusanagi. The two may have their problems, but they’re old friends. Their good-natured ribbing greatly amuses me. I’d actually like to know more about their relationship, which I can only assume has been addressed in more detail in earlier volumes of Detective Galileo. Granted, there is still enough in Salvation of a Saint to get a good sense of their friendship. I’m sincerely looking forward to their return in the next Detective Galileo novel scheduled to be released in English, A Midsummer’s Equation.

The Devotion of Suspect X

Author: Keigo Higashino
Translator: Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander
U.S. publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9780312375065
Released: February 2011
Original release: 2005
Awards: Honkaku Mystery Grand Prize, Naoki Sanjugo Prize

The Devotion of Suspect X is only the second of Keigo Higashino’s works to be translated into English. (Vertical published his novel Himitsu, “Secret,” under the title Naoko in 2004.) This is really too bad since he is both a popular and award-winning author in Japan. The Devotion of Suspect X is arguably his most notable book—originally published in Japan in 2005, it won him the Naoki Sanjugo Prize and was made into a film in 2008. The novel is scheduled for release in English in February 2011 by the Minotaur imprint of St. Martin’s Press. I was happy to receive an advance copy of The Devotion of Suspect X through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. I was also very excited to learn that Alexander O. Smith—one of my favorite translators—worked on the novel’s translation with Elye J. Alexander. I had never read any of Higashino’s work before, but was really looking forward to The Devotion of Suspect X.

After Yasuko unintentionally kills her ex-husband during a violent struggle in her apartment, she is surprised when her next door neighbor, the brilliant mathematician Ishigami, offers to do all that he can to help cover up the crime. He asks for nothing in return but Yasuko and her daughter must follow his plan exactly for it to work. Incredibly, Ishigami seems to have taken into consideration all possible outcomes and the investigation proceeds just as he predicts. The detectives suspect that something isn’t quite right with the situation, but the evidence tells a convincing story even if they are uneasy about it. But then Ishigami is unexpectedly reunited with Yukawa, a former university classmate, rival, and friend. Yukawa, who often acts as a consultant to the police, may be the only person in a position to see through Ishigami’s schemes. However, Ishigami is prepared even for this unforeseen scenario.

Even though the characters are extremely important in The Devotion of Suspect X, the reader never really gets to connect with or know them that well, or see what’s going on inside their minds. It is this not knowing that drives the story. Ishigami is terrifying in his brilliance specifically because the depth of his devotion and the lengths he is willing to go to protect Yasuko are unknown. There is no question he has helped her and her daughter and his incredible intelligence has allowed him to do this extraordinarily well. Throughout the novel, the enormity of exactly what he has done and the ultimate truth behind the situation is slowly revealed. Although I predicted some of the plot developments, I’ll admit that I didn’t see some of the final twists coming. Ishigami’s genius is stunning and in many ways the ending is heartbreaking.

Technically, The Devotion of Suspect X is the third volume in Higashino’s Detective Galileo series, which features Manabu Yukawa. However, the book stands alone perfectly well. I wasn’t even aware that it was a part of a series when I started reading it and only discovered that fact later on. I do hope that the previous two books, Tantei Galileo and Yochimu are translated because I would really like to read them now. The thing that I was most impressed by in The Devotion of Suspect X was how Higashino effectively and very subtly built tension as the novel progressed. I didn’t even realize how worked up I had become until the end of the book when Higashino finally releases his grip. Occasionally, he would linger on a particular mathematical theory or concept for too long and I wouldn’t necessarily call The Devotion of Suspect X a page-turner. However, I found it to be thoroughly engrossing and I really hope to read more of Higashino’s work in English.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing a copy of The Devotion of Suspect X for review.