Review – “Salvation of a Saint” by Keigo Higashino

This lockdown is not doing anything good for my mood. With a toddler who likes to go out, it’s a bigger mood dampener than not being able to even visit my parents. But like always, books come to my rescue. Never the one to underestimate the power of a good book, I bought my next read,  Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino before I went into an abyss and read it in under 24 hours, my best since I had my daughter. Reading this book was a satisfying experience, one which brought me back from the edge and will keep me on track for the next week at least, or however many days before I let the reader in me get the better of me.

With a cup of coffee by his side, businessman Yoshitaka Mashiba is found dead at his residence by his wife Ayane Mita’s apprentice Hiromi Wakayama. Detective Kusanagi with his team reaches the crime scene and finds that the wife had left to visit her parents the day before and Hiromi happened to come to check on Yoshitaka because he didn’t answer his phone. What he gathers from her is that she unlocked the gate from outside since Ayane left her a key before leaving, just in case some work arises. Ayane reaches the next day and immediately asks to see the place where her husband was found dead but doesn’t stay in the house. She reveals that she left because Yoshitaka wanted a divorce and she wanted some time away from him to process their decision. Meanwhile, the forensics find that it was a poison that killed the businessman. With Kusanagi suspecting Hiromi and Utsumi, his junior suspecting Ayane, the investigating team takes different routes to find clues. A seemingly tricky case becomes even more complex as the criminal remains elusive despite only one major suspect. It is then that Utsumi decides to take help from university physics professor Manabu Yuwaka, a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, or Detective Galileo, as he is famously known amongst the circles. The more the investigators delve into the crime, the more they find dead ends. From Yoshitaka’s life plan to his past, Ayane’s calm exterior to her easy acceptance of her broken marriage, and Hiromi’s over-concern for the Mashibas, everything is put under scrutiny to find any lead that might help them nail the murderer.

Ever since I began reading books, I have always read at a breakneck speed. All through the day after school and deep into the night under the moonlight (because my mother was extremely strict about my reading timings) I was always eager to read at the earliest and then crib about not having anything to read next. Those were the days when books were a luxury, they still are, and owning them was all I would want. Also, reading. Although I wasn’t able to buy as many books as I’d have wanted back then, it never stopped me from reading whatever I could lay my hands on, including my mother’s Hindi magazines. Things have changed now, my daughter has become my mother, and she doesn’t let me read as much as I want. LOL. So whenever I get some time off her, I read with the speed of a Formula 1 driver driving towards the finish line. But why am I telling you all this? Because here, with this particular book, I decided to start taking things slow, as slow as I could, making both myself and my toddler happy. By slow I mean reading each and every word and taking in everything and not skipping the “He Said/She said” and tedious environmental descriptions and stuff like that. And I was surprised to find that this slow reading was a blessing in disguise. For starters, the book lasted a little more than 24 hours (HaHa) including night time when I had to keep aside the kindle reluctantly. I was a satisfied reader when I finally read the last line because I was, for the first time in many years, able to read without rushing. Having said all this, I also admit that I found the book slow in itself. Its tediously defined plot, transpiring the aspects of the death of the character and the subsequent revelation of truth kept the pace slow, the complete story wrapping up in under 10 days assuming there was no specific timeline. While the plot was thick with investigations, the truth, however, was kept mostly under wraps until 80% of the book was done with, but one might be able to guess some aspects. The main mystery of how the murder had happened kept me on tenterhooks. The detectives kept trying all possible methods to zero in on The One and everything had been meticulously described. Nothing was left to the imagination and I liked that because, in the case of howdunit, it is essential to eliminate all other possibilities before revealing the answer. The characters were limited, barring a few, mostly all had important parts to play. Though I didn’t find them as deep as I’d have wanted, especially the ones which were of great importance. No reliable back story, no strong character built up. Compared to the kind of details the author gave in terms of the mystery, it’s sad to see the characters not meeting the mark but also relieved that it would probably have been all messed up had the characters had their own subplots. The author brews a sedated coffee here, to be enjoyed sip by sip before reaching the point of no return. Subtle humor, cultural explanations, and even a hint of romance are what this novel brings along under the stress of the big reveal. With nothing gory about this murder mystery, people favoring high-speed drama might have to be more perseverant to reach the end.
Have you read this book? I would love to know your views, do share in the comments below. 

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