Namo Namaha. As mentioned in my Malice review post, I am on a Keigo-books reading-binge and honest to god am loving every moment of it. Before I began the reading I assumed that only 5 of Keigo’s Japanese books have been translated to English, but a little more digging led me to the fact that a total of 9 books have been translated till now. (according to GoodReads he has 117 distinct works! color me thrilled and equally disappointed as only 9 of his works have been translated to English, here’s me wishing for the millionth time that I knew Japanese, sigh! ) Anyway, moving on from my ramblings, I have finished 4 of his books – The Devotion of Suspect X, Malice, A Midsummer’s Equation and Salvation of a Saint.
This post is my review of Keigo Higashino‘s novel: Salvation of a Saint.
Book Name – Salvation of a Saint
Author – Keigo Higashino
Genre – Crime Mystery Thriller
Publisher – Little Brown Book Group
Year of publication – 2013
Goodreads rating – 3.93
A man is found dead in his home and the prime suspect, his wife, Ayane has a solid alibi. While detective Kusanagi finds himself attracted to Ayane and risks the loss of objectivity on the case. His perceptive assistant seeks timely help from Kusanagi’s eccentric physicist friend Yukawa in solving this ‘perfect crime’ case.
Four books don’t make me an expert on Keigo’s writing style and I am aware of it. But, I have come to expect a certain kind of treatment to the plot in Keigo’s books. I am not sure if I can explain it. It’s like seeing Rajnikanth’s style. You can’t explain his style, can you? You also can’t accept somebody else copying/doing his actions. Rajnikanth and his style are unique, anybody else trying to copy him will just reinforce the fact that copies can never be a match to originals.
Similarly, I cannot explain the uniqueness of Keigo’s writing but I probably can recognize his style amongst 10 other authors. Some authors do the atmosphere or the characters well or are experts in the plot or are crazy creative. But like Rajni, I think Keigo is a wholesome all-rounder. He might not be the best at anything but his books are value-for-money just as Rajni’s movies are. I have heard Rajni has quite a fan following in Japan, I hope Keigo’s books also have a similar appeal in India and elsewhere.
What appealed to me?
The story was good. It wasn’t melancholic like The Devotion of Suspect X (yes, a murder’s done but the entire mood in The Devotion of Suspect X was bleak whereas here it is matter-of-fact and realistic) or manipulative like Malice. I liked this book better than The Devotion of Suspect X but Malice still remains at the top of my favorite books.
I liked the characters a lot more in this book. They were much more than the distant, unapproachable people that usually grace Keigo’s books. I loved Utsumi’s character. Spunky, observant and assertive she was easily my favorite character in this book. In fact, I loved most women characters in this novel.
The subtle feminism that’s portrayed in the story is definitely worth more than a mention. i.e. women as a species have different strengths and weaknesses as compared to men and when it comes to the society and corporates a woman who behaves or displays male characteristics or rather displays the strengths as seen from a man’s lens such as being dominant, being strong, being result-oriented, etc is appreciated and encouraged. But I feel this is detrimental to society as a whole.
A woman’s uniqueness must be celebrated and encouraged. Her unique strengths can change everything for the better. Instead, we have a society forcing her to work doubly hard trying to catch up with men’s strengths. Feminism is a word that’s been bastardized. A word that’s been hijacked by vested interests and thus has lost all its potential and dignity. True feminism is when a woman can display her strengths and work on her weakness just as a man can without them being unjustly compared with each other.
Now, what’s that to do with this novel? Salvation of a Saint displays that unique brand of feminism in it’s truest and purest essence. When Utsumi observes “unlike” a man, her observation skills that are so unique to a woman is on display. When she takes action due to Kusanagi’s wavering loyalties, her sharp emotional intelligence is on display aka the strengths of a woman.
While a man is appreciated for his dynamism, result-oriented approach, assertiveness, etc what are the adjectives used for a woman in a corporate or over-achieving world? When a woman is measured using the same scales as a man is that fair? Isn’t it high time to change the scales? Can liquid and solid be measured the same way? also, will they be discounted as less useful or more useful just because of their difference? Our lens as a society to gauge male & female contribution to the society must change and this book made me think deeply about such topics and the fact that the author managed to do it with such subtlety just highlights his ingenuity.
It’s a straight forward story, unlike A Midsummer’s Equation where various threads of investigations are tied up together in the end. It’s also quite unlike Malice which had a very complicated storyline especially in the way everything doesn’t appear as it seems.
Salvation of a Saint is as simple and flavorful as a Buddhist vegetarian meal. It looks simple and it takes you from point A to point B. Now, where’s the thrill in that? you may ask. The thrill is in the unraveling of the perfect crime because from every aspect this really is a perfect crime. As in life, the simplest things are the hardest to figure out and comprehend.
What didn’t appeal to me?
Kusanagi’s role was negligible and I really could have done with him having more of a sleuthing role in this book.
I hated the Hiromi character. The way Keigo has characterized her? it was hard for me not to judge and hate her for her choices. Call it her naivety, stupidity or plain selfishness, I don’t know, which labels justify her actions but I constantly had the urge to ignore all the pages that had her name in it.
This is yet another of Keigo’s must-read books. I especially recommend it to Keigo fans or people who want to give his books a try. It’s not a great book, not a book I want to re-read but I liked it a lot.
I couldn’t find any fault in the storyline, pacing or writing style and that’s a solid enough reason for me to read any book.
Review, recommendation, and rating
Rrkreads rating – Borrow grade. Read it if you are either a mystery thriller genre fan or a Keigo fan.
So friends, over to you now. Have you read this book? What do you think? I haven’t yet decided which Keigo book to pick up next, so if you have any suggestions please do let me know in the comments section. I’ll be glad to chat. Till then, stay blessed and happy. Om Shanti.