Books, The Saturday eReader

The Saturday eReader: When was the last time 2 million people were wrong?


Sorry folks! This one’s going to be a rant. I promise to publish a long list of recommendations next Saturday.

Ever get the feeling that you’re reading the wrong book? Like, everyone who has read it, says they absolutely love it. So you buy it and start reading but it just doesn’t have the same effect on you…

I’m reading The Devotion of Suspect X at the moment and I just don’t see what the fuss is all about. A translation of a Japanese novel by Keigo Higashino, the book is a mystery/thriller about a mathematician who helps a woman cover up a murder.

I have some issues with the language, which has grammatical errors and often jumps details. But that is probably an effect of certain things getting lost in translation. I also don’t like the characters very much. It’s hard to simpathise with them. Everyone from Yasuko, our damsel in distress to Ishigami, the genius mathematician, is unidimensional. Then there’s the amazing physicist Manabu Yukawa, also known as Detective Galileo to the detectives of the local police for being able to solve crimes they can’t.

But if you ask me, the detectives are pretty stupid to begin with if all they’re doing is following up on one suspect and her supposed male accomplice. I mean, are we in a fast-paced thriller that was lauded as a fine example of its genre and turned into cult Japanese film, or what??? The entire novel so far, I’m 70% through, focusses only on how Yasuko’s story doesn’t add up even though she has an alibi, proof and witnesses to back her up because… instinct, and yes, Detective Galileo thinks something is fishy too.

I was also waiting for more background on the murder victim, a character who is undoubtedly deplorable and definitely deserved what he had coming. But where is his motive for wanting to return to his ex-wife after all these years? He’s said to have had shady dealings in the past. Why aren’t the cops also exploring those connections?

Sure, we know this isn’t a whodunit because we already know whodunit, but I sincerely expected what followed to compliment this aspect of the plot. Instead, everything that unfurls after the murder is rather obvious.

Apparently, Higashino is the “Japanese Stieg Larsson”! Let me just break it to you right now – he isn’t. There is no similarity between him and to the author who gave us a trilogy with layers that went so deep you thought you were going to drown until he pulled you out again and threw you right back in. Larsson was a genius who had mastered the art of intricately woven, seemingly unconnected sub-plots. Most importantly, Larsson gave us Lisbeth Salandar and to place Hishagino’s Galileo anywhere around that orbit is an insult to his memory!

But then again, what of the acclaim, those glowing reviews and recommendations from so many friends who loved not just this book but also the two that followed in the series? You can see why I  currently feel like I’ve downloaded the wrong the book. A cheap knock off, that’s what my copy probably is. Mystery solved. And I didn’t even need Detective Galileo to help me.

Because seriously… when was the last time 2 million people were wrong?

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