The ‘Devotion of Suspect X’ had already made me a fan of Keigo Higashino. I was really looking forward to his next book and was indeed delighted to receive ‘Salavation of a Saint’ for review. I must say the second book did not disappoint. It turned out to be as intriguing as the first.
Unlike typical whodunit books, Keigo Higashino leaves no doubt on who the criminal is right from chapter one. The suspense revolves around the manner in which the crime was committed. In the previous book however, most of the time, the reader found himself in the shoes of the criminal and can come to sympathize and even hero worship the criminal. So it is heart breaking when the criminal finally gets caught. This time, on the contrary, the story closely follows the detectives. The detectives from the last book: police inspector Kusanagi and the physics professor Yukawa with their contrasting approach to the case are back again. Yukawa as usual follows his scientific approach while Kusanagai follows the traditional on the field police procedures. We also have a new detective Utsumi bringing woman’s intuition into the mix. It is all the more interesting since the criminal is a woman, Ayane who has murdered her husband from hundreds of miles away.
In the previous novel, many of the readers may have fallen in love with the criminal. In this novel however the criminal maintains some a polite distance from the reader. So the reader’s feeling about her would at best be neutral. The lack of infatuation on the part of the reader is compensated by having Kusanagi infatuated with her. So, along with the detection, there is also an interesting emotional drama. Through the course of the investigation, we get to know of the case facts and the back story unravels. The back story is quite engaging and maintains interest.
One of the best aspects of this novel is it feels like a puzzle too be solved all the time. The crime is committed in a rather intriguing manner and the reader is taken through the clues along with the detectives. One thing I liked especially about this book is that the author does not keep critical information hidden and pull a rabbit out of the hat in the end. Instead if the reader is perceptive, he can actually solve the puzzle before the author reveals his hand. But if things become too obvious too early to everyone, then it is no mystery novel at all. That is the fine balance the author has achieved.
If at all any drawbacks have to be pointed out in this book, it is that the overall structure of the story, the flow of events and the important cues feel very familiar to someone who has read his first book. Because of this, it did not have the mind blowing effect the first book had. I don’t know if the author wishes to continue the series. If he has such plans it is going to be a challenge to maintain things unpredictable. But I feel readers who have not read the previous book will be awed by this. One area where this book scores over the previous one is that it does not have such strong shades of darkness. Though there is murder and sad circumstances that lead to the murder, the book is definitely a happier one.
Overall I found it an interesting and intriguing read. I look forward eagerly to the next novel by this author.