Book: Salvation of a Saint
Author: Keigo Higashino
Number of pages: 377
Price: Rs. 350
Yoshitaka Mashiba is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty apartment and his wife, Ayane, falls under immediate suspicion. But she was away at her parents’ place in Sapporo when it happened. Kusanagi, the Tokyo police detective, smitten by Ayane’s beauty and grace, and in denial, investigates a seemingly unrelated sequence of events to trace the killer. He is assisted by Kaoru Utsumi, a new recruit in the department. Utsumi is sharp, driven by instincts and unafraid to speak her mind. But she is equally baffled when her gut instincts and the apparent evidence don’t quite match.
Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino opens with the Mashiba explaining his reason for wanting to leave Ayane. And she hears him out, patiently. So patient that’s it almost unbelievable and eerie. And as is Higashino’s signature style, Mashiba is bumped off soon after that interaction. The remainder of the book is a compelling read, which traces the poison, the motive and the killer.
Kusanagi and Utsumi hit several blind-spots during the course of their investigation. On the face of it, it appears like the perfect crime, unsolvable. But Utsumi is convinced that Ayane is the killer, while Kusanagi has some difficulty accepting Utsumi’s train of thought. They rely heavily on the friend-scientist, Professor Manabu Yukawa’s, popularly known as “Detective Galileo,” deductions, with him being their sounding board, devil’s advocate, et al. Kusanagi, initially, hopes to resolve the mystery without Yukawa’s assistance but he not too successful with that.
Higashino weaves a delightful tale of love, deceit and audacity. You will marvel at his attention to the minutest of details and the choice of words. He connects an apparently random chain of events to construct a plot that leaves you reeling with astonishment. I turned each page of the book with heightened excitement, only to go back and revisit some of the minor details I had glossed over in a hurry. I tried to be extra-attentive to keep pace with the plot and that very bit led me to be distracted. Higashino turns you into a patient reader. In all likelihood, you probably know the identity of the killer. You probably even like or sympathize with that character. But Higashino will still keep you hooked for the remainder of his plot.
Higashino doesn’t spend too much time on his characterization, revealing only the essential bits, as and when it aids the plot. Instead he concentrates all his energies into crafting an entertaining, fool-proof plot, riding high on emotions.
Salvation of a Saint is rich in details, nuanced with heavy emotions and the regret that accompanies some romantic relationships. There is a touching scene where Ayane in conversation with Hiromi Wakayama (the woman her husband intended to leave her for) reveals her emotions and motivations, for perhaps the very first time. She is otherwise, usually, very calm, composed and dignified.
I was a wee bit disappointed with how the book ended. Forced and abrupt. I’d have liked to see the killer build up a defense of sorts when the investigators came for her in the end. Leaving it narrated in the third person made an otherwise perfect plot, a little bland.
However, I’ll leave you with this gem from the second –last chapter from the book: “Marriage meant offering daily salvation to a man standing on the gallows.” This for me, summed up the book.
Curl up with Salvation of a Saint on a lazy afternoon and feel yourself drawn into Higashino’s world of crime.
Book Review: The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino