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Dec 4, 2013

READER: "Devotion Of Suspect X" by Keigo Higashino

I usually don’t read hard core fiction. Murder Plots are the last on my list of fun but when, in our last book club meeting at Apparao Galleries, it was decided to discuss “Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Higashino, I reluctantly gave in to read it. Well, as I did a little bit of research, felt a little relieved that there must be something more than blood and gore. The book seemed to be one of the biggest – selling Japanese thrillers ever and the inspiration for a cult film. And yes it took me by surprise and really enjoyed reading it. It was a good book, perfectly portraying the mind of a genius mathematician Ishigami and his college mate and kind of competitor, Physics Professor Yukawa in the back drop of the accidental murder of Togashi, ex Husband of the heroine Yasuko. (It was hard to find the book, but you can order it on the flipkart, Click here...)
Image from Wikipedia

The first pages that dealt with Ishigami’s walk to his school, bringing in the atmosphere, as P G Wodehouse would say, got me off to a bad start (though later it proved to be an integral part of the plot). But then as the Ex Husband Togashi, of the heroine, Yasuko; was lying dead in her room, the negative insight to Mathematician Ishigami’s mind by the author perked up my interest in the book. There’s got be something in the book, if the author is bringing up the thoughts of Ishigami, focused on his passion and lust for the Heroine, while the dead body is lying around her…

“I have to protect them, thought Ishigami. He would never be this close to so beautiful a woman ever again in his life. He was sure of that. He had to summon every last bit of his strength and knowledge to prevent any calamity from happening to her.
Yasuko sighed. To Ishigami it sounded sexual, almost like a moan and his heart fluttered. I won’t let you down, he thought steeling his resolve anew.” – From the book

But in the end, author gave more deeper insight to Ishigami’s mind…

“How beautiful their eyes are,’ Ishigami thought. Until that moment, he had never been carried away by beauty of any kind. He didn’t even understand art. But in that moment, he understood everything.”

The beauty of the book is the fact that the Author did not build up a crescendo like play up of  words, before slipping in quite crucial turns without waiting for a chapter to end or to start…  for example the turning point of the book was when Inspector casually asks if he, Ishigami, is from the University, as he noticed a letter in his hand. This simple fact, on which the whole mind game hinged, was just simply slipped in. A great style and form and I loved it. And the second important aspect that I loved about the book is the way he portrayed the minds.

Although, I am going to give you some of the Author’s take on the minds of Geniuses like Ishigami and Yukawa, at the end of this post for you to read, I will jump almost to the end of the book, giving you the desperation of the heroine, Yasuko because of a synchronicity that happened as the discussion in the book club ended. Somehow got it turned towards my Haiku (To know more about haiku, read my feature "Understanding Haiku - A beginner's Guide"). As I was asked to recite one of my Haiku, I recited an old one about "Pain"… but first I would like you to read what Yasuko has to say about her pleasure (relief), almost at the end of the book.

“Yasuko let the motion of the vehicle rock her gently in her seat as she stared out the window. The sun had set. Night had come to the city. How easy it would be if everything went dark, and the world ended right here, right now. What a relief it would be”

Now here is my Haiku on Pain…
Pain is
When you feel like
Stopping the sunrise

A Brief Note on “Devotion Of Suspect X”
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The Devotion of Suspect X is a 2005 novel by Keigo Higashino, the third in his Detective Galileo series and is his most acclaimed work thus far. The novel won him numerous awards, including the 134th Naoki Prize, which is a highly regarded award in Japan. The novel also won the 6th Honkaku Mystery Grand Prize, which is one of the most prestigious awards in the mystery novels category in Japan. 2006 Honkaku Mystery Best 10 and Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! 2006, annual mystery fiction guide books published in Japan, ranked the novel as the number one.
The Hindi language Bollywood film adaptation rights has been acquired by Balaji Telefilms and Sujoy Ghosh the noted director of Kahaani fame has been roped in to direct it.The film may see the return of Vidya Balan as the single mother (Yasuko).Other actors rumored to star includes Naseeruddin Shah,Parambrata Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
The English translation was nominated for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Barry Award for Best First Novel.
________________
Some of the thoughts and passages from the book, which I loved. Hope you will enjoy it too. Don’t worry, I am not going to let you in on the secret…
(In the bracket is the character who is saying or thinking those words)

It had been her (Yasuko) true face, he thought. A woman’s face. A face she wore for this man, and would never wear for Ishigami… (Ishigami)

The solutions He looks for in his work are always the simplest. He doesn’t start a problem by looking for many answers at once. And he always chooses simple approach to get where he’s going. That’s why he is so good at what he does. There is no indecision, and he doesn’t give up over trifling obstacles. Its great for mathematics, but no so great for day-to-day life. You can’t always shoot for one result, for all or nothing. And yet he is constantly doing just that, and winding up with nothing to show for all his efforts. (Yukawa)

Which is harder: devising an unsolvable problem, or solving that problem?’ (Yukawa)
It’s more difficult to create the problem than to solve it. All the person trying to solve the problem has to do is always respect the problem’s creator.’ (Ishigami)

Maybe you are over thinking this. That guy might be a genius mathematician, but he’s certainly a novice murderer. (Inspector) They’re the same thing,’ Yukawa stated simply. Murder probably comes even easier to him.’ (Yukawa)

“Murder isn’t the most logical way to escape a difficult situation. It only leads to a different difficult situation. … ‘the converse is also true. That is, he is quite capable of committing an atrocity, provided that it’s the most logical course of action.’ (Yukawa)

He’s simple. Ishigami I mean. I don’t mean stupid – I mean he’s straight forward, direct. The solutions he looks for in his work are the simplest. He doesn’t start a problem by looking for many answers at once. And he always chooses simple approach to get where he is going. That’s why he is so good at what he does. There is no indecision, and he does not give up over trifling obstacles. It’s great for mathematics but not so great for day-to-day life. You can’t always shoot for one result, for all or nothing. And yet he’s constantly doing just that, and winding up with nothing to show for all his efforts.’ (Yukawa)

They (exam questions) are not tough, though. I merely take advantage of the blind spots created when students assume too much. And they usually assume too much. For example, I give them a question that looks like a geometry problem, but is I fact an algebra problem. (Ishigami)

How wonderful it would be to forget everything else, all other considerations, all the time sinks of daily life, and just work on that problem! (Ishigami was working on a mathematical theory from his student days and thought it would probably take another 20 years or more to solve it..)

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. (Yukawa)

 … that man is made of logic. Emotions come a distant second.’ (Yukawa)

How short is a life time, he (Ishigami) thought, compared to the time it will take human kind to find all the rich veins of mathematical ore where they lie sleeping and tease them forth into the world. Nor, he reflected, did he need anyone to acknowledge his work. Certainly he would have liked to publish his theories, to be recognized and reviewed; but that was not the true essence of mathematics. (Ishigami)

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Shashi
नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
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