x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Higashino's follow-up novel to Suspect X pales in comparison

Keigo Higashino's newest crime thriller, Salvation of A Saint, is a follow-up to his 2011 bestseller The Devotion of Suspect X. The latest offering involves a wealthy businessman who is fatally poisoned soon after telling his wife he is leaving her.

Salvation of a Saint
Seigo Higashino
Minotaur Books

Love, but apparently not a murder mystery novel, is better the second time around.

Keigo Higashino's newest crime thriller, a follow-up to his well-received 2011 bestseller The Devotion of Suspect X, retains the character Manubu Yukawa, a physics professor known affectionately to law enforcement types as Detective Galileo for his uncanny insight into solving crimes, as well the veteran detective Shunpei Kusanagi. Also carried over is the framework of the story, in which the perpetrator is known early on, leaving how the crime was committed as the mystery.

The similarities end there, however. Salvation of a Saint involves a wealthy businessman who is fatally poisoned soon after telling his wife he is leaving her because she cannot have children. His barren but beautiful spouse is the prime suspect, but she appears to have an alibi as airtight as an unopened bottle of sake. The characters in Salvation aren't as well-developed as those in Suspect X, and as a result we care less about them. In Suspect X, a lonely middle-aged maths teacher who's secretly in love with his next-door neighbour, a single mother and former cocktail hostess, goes to increasingly elaborate lengths to mislead the authorities in their investigation into the murder of the mother's abusive ex-husband.

In comparison, Salvation lacks the tense, page-turning build-up of Suspect X.

But all this may be unfair. Just because Higashino's first work in English was a home run doesn't mean we should give short shrift to a solid base hit.