Naga Chokkanathan

Salvation Of A Saint

Posted on: April 30, 2013

I know only two extremes of Japan Literature : Manga Comics and Serious (ie, Nobel Prize Worthy) Novels. Never thought there could be anything in between.

“Salvation Of A Saint” by Keigo Higashino (Translated By Alexander O Smith & Elye J Alexander) changed my perception about Japanese writing. It is a mystery novel set in that country, unlike typical pulp novels, it is very well detailed and yet, a true unputdownable story.

After reading the novel, I did some web search about the author and came to know that there is an association for Mystery writers in Japan, and this author (Keigo Higashino) is its president. Wow, so much for my prejudice!

Now, about the novel.

First thing I liked about the novel is, its characters are very rich, Not in the money sense, but they are very well documented by the author, without disturbing the pace of the story. By the time you are half way into the book, you know every character very well, and could even predict what they will do in different story situations.

And then, the author goes one step above and starts teasing you, Every assumption you make is twisted, turned and you end up doubting how you could read those characters so wrong!

Detective Kusanagi, and his assistant Kaoru Utsumi are the ones trying to solve a murder case. It looks like a wife has killed her husband, but there are not enough evidence to prove so (in fact, the evidences are totally against that lady doing any murder), and they are running around to find what went wrong.

With this simple theme, Keigo Higashino has written a fantastic thriller. It has all the elements, from humor to suspense  in the right mix. Most important, when the puzzle is solved, you are fully satisfied, not cheated (According to me, an important measure when it comes to success of a thriller story).

Now, a negative point which I disliked, Major one at that.

For a story of this kind, the amount of dialogues that are thrown in doesn’t fit. It helps in establishing characters, but after a point you start wondering ‘why these guys are talking non stop?’

In the beginning of the novel, I sort of liked it, because it gave an insight into the Japanese culture, but after a point it becomes dragging, because the premises explained via these characters is not something specific to Japan, you can rewrite this story with America or India as the backdrop, and not much would change.

Of course, I was not expecting a “Life In Japan” kind of book here, but the brand (and the way it is marketed) made me think it is a unique Japan novel, while it was only partly true.

Another point, The Indian edition of this book is published by Hachette India, and priced at Rs 350. Given the size and cost of other similar books (in this genre, I am not comparing talent here), this is rather high. I felt sub 200 would have been a good price for this.

Please Note: This book review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!


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