Book review: Salvation of a Saint By Keigo Higashino




Title : Salvation of a Saint
Author : Keigo Higashino
Genre : Mystery
Language :  English (translated from Japanese by Alexander O. Smith)
Publishers : Little, Brown Book Group
Publication year : 2013
ISBN : 978-0-3491-3934-0
Paperback Price : Rs. 350/-
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I would like to start by thanking Blogadda.com for the opportunity to read and review this book, particularly since it is a murder mystery, one of my favourite genres of fiction.

Having read sensational reviews for Keigo Higashino's earlier novel The Devotion of Suspect X, described by some as a work by which "Agatha Christie would be mightily impressed", I was looking forward with bated breath to devouring Salvation of a Saint.

Salvation of a Saint begins promisingly enough. A dinner get-together with undertones of tension and relationships on the bend does indeed create the setting for a juicy murder in the offing. The promise of murder is fulfilled in the next few pages with a man found poisoned to death by a cup of coffee he made for himself. And that is where the excitement ends.

What should ideally have been a crisp short story is stretched needlessly across over 350 pages. From the second chapter onwards, the story moves from being a who-dun-it to a how-dun-it, and we spend the rest of the story laboriously following a slow-moving police investigation into how the poison got into the coffee.

There are no interesting twists and no sprinkling of clues and suspects to keep us guessing. For no apparent reason, the main police officer in charge of the investigation, Kusanagi, falls for the chief suspect, the murdered man's wife. This plot-line further slows the pace of the story since all it does is make Kusanagi question his more clear-headed assistant's observations, which are repeated with persistent regularity. This disagreement leads to long-winded arguments between the two, and painful inner monologues that don't really lead anywhere.

The story moves in fits and starts only when physicist Yukawa, nicknamed Detective Galileo, nudges the investigation forward, mostly by rejecting the police's theories on how the coffee may have been poisoned. He ends up unravelling what would have been a devious plot had this been a 50-page story, but which leaves the reader unsatisfied and irritated after plodding through page after page of glacier-speed and repetitive investigation. The motive, too, seems contrived and doesn't justify the effort put into devising the murder.

That said, this is not a run-of-the-mill murder mystery. The story has its moments, particularly the reveal at the end of how the murder was committed. Also, I have not read many books set in Japan, and this one gives a glimpse of everyday life there without resorting to the pop-culture cliches that we are used to seeing in movies and animes. It is frustrating that an otherwise decent plot was ruined by the unnecessary length of the book.

Final Rating : 






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