Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino has been translated by Alexander O. Smith with Elye J. Alexander. The book is 377 pages long and is in the genre of crime fiction.

The book’s blurb reads: “When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home, his beautiful wife Ayane immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect, but how could she have committed the crime when she was hundreds of miles away?

As Tokyo police detective Kusanagi tries to unpick a seemingly unrelated sequence of events, he finds himself falling for Ayane. When his judgement becomes dangerously clouded, his assistant must call on an old friend for help; it will take a genius to unravel the most spectacular web of deceit they have ever faced…”

Ayane Mita and Yoshitaka Mashiba have been married for about a year and living in Tokyo. The book starts off with the husband, Yoshitaka, telling his wife, Ayane, that he wants them both to get separated since that was the deal. Almost immediately into the book, Yoshitaka is found dead at this apartment that weekend when Ayane is away visiting her parents. The last person to see Yoshitaka alive is Hiromi Wakayama, Ayane’s assistant at a patchwork quilting school which both of them run together.

The police are called in when suicide is ruled out. Naturally, the bone of suspicion is on Hiromi and also Ayane. However, how could she pull it off when she was away at her parents’ place in Sopporo? At the crime scene, it is established that Yoshitaka was poisoned by something in the coffee he drank. To solve this particular case are assigned detective Kusanagi and his assistant Utsumi.

How they go about interrogating each and everyone connected with Yoshitaka (his friends, his in-laws, etc.), pry into his past life, try and piece together each piece of the jigsaw puzzle forms the rest of the book. Utsumi also solicits the assistance of a physicist Yukawa to help her solve the crime.

The author’s style of writing is extremely thrilling; I found the book to be an absolute page-turner. Also, his words and sentences have the power of making the reader visualize the scenes – the apartment where the crime happened, the parents’ house in Sopporo, the coffee shop where they sometimes interrogated the suspects, etc.

The author has managed to create some absolutely strong characterizations. For example, even though Ayane is the main suspect, she is never shown to falter or cry; in fact, she keeps tempting the police saying, “Should I not be the one under suspicion?” On the other hand, Hiromi has been shown to be a sensitive woman; who will cry at the slightest instance and be wary of police around her. Utsumi has been shown to be a gutsy assistant who does not fear questioning or arguing with her superiors. She basically works a lot based on her intuition.

The protagonist – Kusanagi – is committed to the job. Even when he finds himself falling for Ayane’s charms, he is torn between his head and his heart – his duty towards solving the crime and his fascination for Ayane.

The book’s real strength lies in the way it goes about getting together each and every piece of the puzzle which will finally lead to the crime getting solved. Situations/people unconnected with the main event have been beautifully woven into the story. The book reaches its climax slowly and methodically; Keigo does not hurry in trying to solve the crime. The reader is often left second-guessing at the turn of events in the book and is finally both relieved and ecstatic when the climax is revealed.

I am going with 5/5 for this book – it was an extremely enjoyable and fun read for me. I really liked this particular sentence in the book – “Determining the existence or non-existence of something extraordinary is never a straight forward task and those who set themselves to do it are often overly swayed by their preconceived notions.

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Jigar Doshi said...

His The Devotion Of Suspect X was lot better.
In comparison, Salvation falls a little flat.

But yeah, Salvation was a thrilling read too. :)

There are always some spiritual teachings in the novel and his writings, if we have an eye for them.

palsworld said...

Thanks Jigar for your comment. Never really thought about the spiritual aspect; shall have to re-read the novel for that :)