Title: Salvation of a Saint
Author: Keigo Higashino
About the story: The book starts with a tiff between a married couple. The husband, Yoshitaka, desperately wants to have a child, while the wife unfortunately can’t bear him any offspring. This leads to Yoshitaka deciding to call it quits. In fact the pre-nuptial contract between them stated that if they couldn’t produce a child within a year of their marriage they would culminate their marriage amicably. The wife, Ayane, a famous patchwork quilter, is distressed and leaves for her parents’ house.
Everything is cordial until after two days the husband is found dead in his own house. The reason for the death is confirmed to be arsenous acid mixed in his cup of coffee. One of the suspects is Hiromi Wakayama, Ayane’s apprentice and Yoshitaka’s mistress. But Hiromi is pregnant with Yoshitaka’s child, so the question then arises as to why she would kill her own child’s father. Even though she could have easily killed Yoshitaka as she had access to his house, she doesn’t have a plausible motive.
The second prime suspect is Ayane. The bitter wife has a motive to kill her betraying husband but she was hundreds of miles away when the murder was committed. She had an air tight alibi. Was it possible to slip the poison into her husband’s cup of coffee even though she was miles away?
Trying to solve the perfect and flawless crime are the Tokyo police detectives, Kusanagi and his assistant, the feisty Utsumi. But Kusanagi’s analysis gets subjective as he falls for the mysterious and alluring Ayane Mashiba. On the other hand, his assistant firmly believes that Ayane is the murderer and tries all possible ways to find evidence against her.
When the case becomes too much of a puzzle, they call in the eccentric but brilliant physicist Manabu Yukawa also known as Detective Galileo. Can the professor solve the perfect crime and also collect enough evidence to implicate the culprit. Read the book to solve the crime.
Review: The book is the second English novel of the Japanese author, Keigo Higashino. The first, Devotion of Suspect X, was a runaway hit. And this one too does not fail to disappoint the readers, but since I have not read his first novel, I can’t really comment if it matches to the expectation of his first book.
The book is fast paced and it’s more like a puzzle where the reader knows the larger picture, but still has to connect the various small pieces to form the final picture. The book is not much about who the culprit is but about how the perfect crime was committed. After about 250-odd pages of the book, the puzzle falls into place and one can guess how the crime was carried out.
The book is engaging and enthralling, as the various hypothesis on how the victim’s coffee was laced with poison gets ruled out one at a time, till what remains is the ultimate truth. It’s a definite must read. I loved the sardonic humour between the detective Kusanagi and the physicist Yukawa.
Verdict: Simple narrative, a definite page-turner and a must-read.
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