Higashino Keigo’s 東野圭吾 Yogisha X No Kenshin 嫌疑犯 X 的獻身 is the first full length Japanese mystery novel I have read. A sensational hit in Japan, the novel won numerous critic and reader polls, immediately turning the author into one of the island nation’s most successful writers after years of mediocre sales (though he did win a Rampo Award with his debut in 1985). Higashino is relatively unknown in the West as few of his books have been translated into English. Luckily, there is an abundance of Chinese translations of the author’s works, and I managed to pick up a copy of this novel a few weeks ago.
Yogisha X No Kenshin 嫌疑犯 X 的獻身 follows the classic murder mystery formula and starts off with a deadly crime very quickly. But the novel is not a whodunnit – we know who the criminals are. Instead of pursuing suspects, readers become engrossed with how the killer(s) establish their alibis and mislead the police inspectors. Both parties have alliances. On the side of the investigators, is a perceptive physics professor; on the side of the murderer, is a meticulous and intelligent mathematics teacher. The battle of wits between these two individuals (who happen to be college classmates) provides the novel with a riveting centre of action.
Overall, I found the novel very satisfying: the prose (translated into Chinese) is brisk and despite the structure of the novel, the ending still manages to pack a twist. Higashino Keigo once remarked that apart from being a mystery, the novel is about love and sacrifice (a very rough translation of the title would be “The Devotion of Suspect X”). And indeed, especially towards the end, there is a sense of pathos in the lengths the maths teacher is prepared to go to protect the murderer. Highly recommended.
Info about the author : I found a nice article about the author here.
Edit : hyperlink to external author article updated