A divorced mom Yasuko and her daughter Misato are harassed by her ex-husband, they knock him down and kill him in a fit of anger. A math genius neighbor Ishigami, who has a secret crush on the mom, steps in to help the conceal the murder. The body of the ex appears beside a faraway riverside the next day with the face smashed in and fingerprints burnt off. The police are clueless until a physics genius Yukawa takes interest in the case. What follows is a brilliant chess game, for every hole that Yukawa uncovers it turns out that Ishigami had already planned for it way back when he concealed the murder. How did he do it?
I had just recently enjoyed another Keigo Higashino novel The Name of the Game is a Kidnapping. On the suggestion of AK I picked up The Devotion of Suspect X after that. I expected another delicious caper. But this one went beyond expectations to be the most intelligent murder mystery I have ever read!
When an amateur attempts to conceal something, the more complex he makes his camouflage, the deeper the grave he digs for himself. But not so a genius. The genius does something far simpler, yet something no normal person would even dream of, the last thing a normal person would think of doing. And from this simplicity, immense complexity is created.
As the reader, the only thing you know more than the police is the true identity of the victim and the culprits. Ishigami's game is top notch, having thought of every possible loophole ahead of time. As the reader and the police discover one weakness after another, we are only shocked to discover that it was expected to be discovered and cannot understand how he did it. Higashino builds such a watertight plot that I could not figure out anything until the moment he would choose to show his move. What results is a nail-biting experience. Two final puzzle pieces late into the novel finally let us understand Ishigami's genius and maniac nature. The first piece is gory and was something I had been suspecting all along. But the second piece was pure genius and turns your entire hypothesis upside down. A story that is no less than a brilliant magic act.
Rating: 4/4 (★★★★)