The Devotion of Suspect X

This book is a crime novel where we sort of know ‘who did it’, but we know more about the ‘who’-part than about the ‘it’-part. I have done everything I could to avoid spoilers in the remarks below. I decided to give it four stars on goodreads – the average rating there is 3.84. I decided to crosspost my goodreads review of the book here as well:

“The plot is very interesting and quite clever, but the writing isn’t anything special and at times you can sort of tell that it’s a translation you’re reading (which is not a good thing).

A thing that really annoyed me about the book while I was reading it was the thought that there was a better option, with a much lower associated risk. The way the main character(s) decide to approach the problem is suboptimal from the outset – it was not the best way to proceed, and that strains the willing suspense of disbelief. This, plus the fact that a few of the other decisions made by the main characters along the way are borderline implausible even taking the setting in question for granted, and the unimpressive language, is why an otherwise quite brilliant page-turner of a book in my opinion still falls short of the five star evaluation.

All that said, it is a pretty damn good book. But…”

It’s very hard to convey the reasons why I’m not ‘completely satisfied’ with the stuff in the book without adding way too much information about the plot, and I am being deliberately vague in the review above. Remember that one main reason why I’m being vague is that I don’t want to spoil the book, and I take care not to do this because I think it’s a good book that people should read if they like that kind of stuff. I liked it a lot, it’s a compelling story which is hard to put away (I started reading it late last evening, which was a mistake because I found it hard to stop and so got to sleep only much later than I’d planned).


July 20, 2013 - Posted by | Books


  1. I never read the book, but I did watch its film adaptation and I enjoyed it very much. The author of the book also penned several other books as well as a TV series featuring the same detective. Unfortunately I think it is exceedingly difficult to download the series with English subtitles — every single episode features some puzzling phenomenon (e.g., spontaneous combustion), and the detective then unravels the case by explaining the scientific principles behind it.

    There are some very talented Japanese mystery writers whom I’d consider to be on par with Agatha Christie, but unfortunately English translations of these works are usually either non-existent or subpar.

    Comment by Miao | July 20, 2013 | Reply

    • …but Chinese translations of the works exist and aren’t horrid? Or have you read them (the talented mystery writers) in Japanese? (I’m curious).

      I very rarely go for translated works these days, but come to think of it I’m not actually at all sure if I’ve ever read Dexter in English. If I’ve only ever read translated versions of his works this may have coloured my view of his works somewhat.

      Incidentally you have e-mail.

      Comment by US | July 20, 2013 | Reply

      • In my experience, Chinese translations of Japanese works are usually quite well-done. It could be due to the fact that these two languages are more similar to each other than Japanese is to a European language, so there is comparatively less loss in translation when Japanese is translated into Chinese (or vice versa). Very occasionally in Japanese mysteries there are clues that require a knowledge of kanji, and naturally a Chinese speaker would be able to detect these clues. A non-Chinese speaker will not have that advantage.

        Comment by Miao | July 20, 2013

      • I see.

        Well, do let me know if/when you hear about good English translations of that stuff – I’m not going to learn Chinese or Japanese just in order to read a few good crime stories…

        Comment by US | July 21, 2013

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