It all starts with a cold war in the living room, between Yoshitaka, a man who firmly believes that “If we can’t have children, there’s no point to us being married. Romantic love between a man and a woman always fades with time” and his unlucky wife, Ayane who had “dreamed of sitting in a rocking chair, stitching a patchwork quilt, watching her belly grow larger with each passing day” all in vain. By insisting of a child before his barren spouse, the husband hints his priority of life at one hand and provides an indirect indication for a formidable divorce to their one year married life on the other. The readers develop disgust for the stonehearted Yoshitaka and soft corner for the beautiful but ill-fated Ayane right from the first page of the English-translated thriller “Salvation of a Saint” by Japanese mystery-novelist Keigo Higashino! Keigo Higashino is one of the most famous fiction writers in Japan whose mystery works have always been widely accepted by readers, earning him many honours like Edogawa Rampo Prize, Mystery Writers of Japan Inc award, 134th Naoki Prize for Best Novel and many more. A lot of movies and TV-series have also been made on his novels, the last most successful of them being “The Devotion of Suspect X” which relished four weeks topping the box office besides selling its 800,000 copies worldwide in one year!
Readers are cleverly tickled over their tummies by Ayane’s soliloquy that concludes the first chapter, “I love you more than anything else in this world. That’s why your words were like a knife stabbing me in the heart. That’s why you have to die, too”. Higashino utilises his fan’s negativity he has already grossed for the rich Tokyo executive Yoshitaka and intensifies it further by exposing his infidelity with a young lady Hiromi in his wife’s absence. So, in coming few pages when Yoshitaka is found dead by arsenous-acid poisoned coffee, neither we get sad for the victim nor do we get upset with the author for knocking him down so early. Now, you’re happy for some unexplainable reason that the betrayer has been punished. You know the mode of homicide. You can guess the suspect because the blurb itself enlightens you “When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home his beautiful wife, Ayane, immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect” but you also know, how could she have committed the offence when she was hundreds of miles away at Sapporo, in her parents’ place? Although Higashino introduces you with the apparent climax in the beginning, don’t feel cheated or disheartened as you’ve to ride the whole circle of this merry-go-round 0f 350+ pages to get the actual pleasure of the climax. I think the author has intentionally adopted this style to enrich the movie-making potential of the novel. Soon, Tokyo Police Department takes up its role and we find investigating officers Kusanagi, Utsumi and later on detective Yukawa playing their parts dynamically. You’ll come across vivid police proceedings in great details but you won’t be denied situations of overflowing unbalanced human emotions too. This story is a true rollercoaster of suspense and attributions of perfectly portrayed characters like, Ayane’s boldness, Kusanagi’s biased heart, Hiromi’s soft heart or Yukawa’s satisfaction in dissecting the perfect murder case. If you’re into crime-tales or detective-salsas you need to give it a read to experience biting your own nails!
Unlike my every other book review, I missed my two cents on the cover graphics here. Yes, a good title and attractive cover is very essential in today’s world where a lot of copies are sold online… in a web-store what else will hit your eyes, especially when the author is new one? Here the apathetic but elegant side-face of a lady (perhaps Ayane) succeeds in catching our eyes efficiently. Although I haven’t read the original work in Japanese but the fluent English translation by Alexander O. Smith doesn’t leave me thirsty for the original words. ‘The Japanese Stieg Larsson’ has given no scope to complain for characterisations and their introduction in proper time. I would have definitely loved to know Kusanagi deciphering the riddle of crime than his Holmes-like colleague Galileo, but that certainly is my extra demand. Overall this read of “Salvation of a Saint” has been satisfying and I wouldn’t have regretted spending money for it if I didn’t receive it for free to review. Oh did I tell you that this is my 2nd fiction from any Asian (non-Indian) author in 2013!
My rating for this Book: - 6/10