Posted in Books

Book Review: Salvation of a Saint (Detective Galileo #4), by Keigo Higashino

About the author:
Keigo Higashino is one of the more popular authors in Japan and the cover of the book shows the Times quoting him to be the Japanese Steig Larsson. He is known for his fiction series involving physicist Manabu Yukawa (Detective Galileo) and Detective Kusanagi. The first book in the series became the second-most selling book in Japan, including non-fiction books as well.

From the description:
When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home, his wife falls immediately 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 judgment becomes dangerously clouded, his assistant must call on an old friend for help; it will take a genius to unravel this most spectacular web of deceit they have ever faced.

My thoughts on the book:
So at the beginning, we have a troubled couple, Ayane and Yoshitaka who are discussing some marital problems that relate with having a child (or not as the case may be). The story moves on to a small party where they discuss something random, but where the having a child thing is mentioned. We also get to know Ayane is going away to her parents house in Sapporo, and afterward that Yoshitaka is seeing someone else – the prodigy of Ayane (who is a famous artist), Hiromi Wakayama. When Yoshitaka is found murdered by the mistress later on, the case really begins, and the suspect pool is narrowed to two people, Ayane and Hiromi – the catch being that Ayane was many miles away from the crime scene.

Kusanagi, the lead detective finds himself smitten by Ayane and his instinct says to him that Ayane is innocent and that it is Hiromi who should be the criminal. However, Utsumi, his deputy, is reluctant to take that at face value and puts forward her case to the chief (Mamiya) as well. The investigation, very fluently narrated by Higashino, goes in those lines afterward.

When Utsumi feels Kusanagi’s “love” is interfering in his decisions and the case, she brings Yukawa (Detective Galileo) into the picture. I like this character, a laid-back Physics professor who has his own ideas and depends on the evidence to base his ideas, no matter how fantasaical they seem.

For me, the plus points in this book were more than the negative ones. Gripping narration, so much so that I finished it in a few hours at one sitting. Great character buildup and attention to detail in the investigation of the crime. I had to go back once to actually make sure I was on the right track and it made me happy that I was. The fact that Kusanagi is smitten is also brought out well, but not to the point that it ends up like a mushy side story, and just subtly enough to make the reader go, “Come on Detective, don’t go that way!” The character of Ayane is deeper, and she’s calm composed and co-operative, everything you’d not expect a grieving widow to be. Even when the “who” is solved, the “why” and the “how” still make us go “wow”. If a negative must be sought, I feel it is the point that we are left leaning toward one suspect towards and after the middle parts of the story.

Closing thoughts:
Each chapter I feel is woven with keeping the interest of the reader in the plot and it certainly kept mine. Like Yukawa says, “It’s the case which piqued my interest, rather than the detective who presented it to me”. Though the narration leaves us leaning toward one suspect toward the middle of the story, that doesn’t detract from the gripping handling of the plot, the character sketching or the attention to detail be it in the case or the distraction from the same of the lead detective. I very much enjoyed this.

Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book details:
Title: Salvation of a Saint
Series: Detective Galileo #2
Author: Keigo Higashino
ISBN: 978-0-3491-3934-0
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publishers: Abacus Books
Price: INR. 350


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The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced, and is not a paid review.

Also for the First Reads challenge at b00k r3vi3ws.

(May 1st, 2013)