LITTLE, BROWN, £12.99 Order for £11.69 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

The Devotion of Suspect X, By Keigo Higashino

Unbearable tension in a Tokyo tale

Can two million Japanese readers be wrong? The Devotion of Suspect X has not only sold a jaw-dropping number of copies in its native country, but has become something of a national obsession.

Yasuko is a devoted mother, living with her only child and working in a Tokyo bento shop. She has freed herself from an abusive husband, but divorce does not mean that she has seen the last of her tormentor.

He appears at her door, pleading for reconciliation. This is familiar territory for the weary Yasuko, but he tries to talk

to his teenage stepdaughter, who wants as little to do with him as his ex-wife. In a rage, he begins to beat her and Yasuko attempts to pull him away, grabbing the cord of a heated table and strangling him.

This is the startling opening of Keigo Higashino's novel. The first thing that will strike the reader is the beautifully judged prose (translated by Alexander O Smith and Elye J Alexander), which is cool but involving, functional but poetic. We are hooked even before the author pulls off another coup. After the almost accidental murder, there is a knock at the door. Yasuko's neighbour enters the room and instantly realises what has happened.

Ishigami is a super-intelligent mathematician holding down a dead-end job at a local school. His one source of pride is his devastatingly logical intellect, and he quickly assesses the situation, realising that the mother and daughter were attempting to protect themselves. Ishigami devises a plan: he will help them dispose of the body, on the condition that they put themselves totally in his care. And when the authorities arrive, other idiosyncratic characters are introduced, including Professor Yukawa, a physicist helping the police who was a classmate of the helpful mathematician neighbour. What follows is fascinating, tense and endlessly surprising.

Anyone who regularly writes about the crime genre is repeatedly asked: what's the next trend? If there were more genre authors in Japan as accomplished as this, the answer would be simple: Japanese crime fiction. But Higashino appears to be something of an evolutionary sport who has grown up paying obeisance to no other novelists – and (so far) inspiring no imitators. As well as its minutely detailed picture of life in modern Japan, a host of other pleasures crowd into The Devotion of Suspect X, including a postmodern take on the conventions of the detective novel.

News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy