Welcome to the myriad of moments that whisper into my Life!
When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home his beautiful wife, Ayane, immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect, but how could she have committed the crime when she was hundreds of miles away? As Tokyo police detective Kusanagi tries to unpick a seemingly unrelated sequence of events he finds himself falling for Ayane. When his judgement becomes dangerously clouded his assistant must call on an old friend for help; it will take a genius to unravel the most spectacular web of deceit they have ever faced…
This is Higashino’s second novel, translated by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander. I have reviewed his first book, The Devotion of Suspect X here and mentioned that it was one of the best crime novels that I have read in a while. Like all other Devotion fans, when I first heard of a second novel from the same author, I wasted no time in signing up when Blogadda offered it for review.
Just like Devotion, Salvaton of a Saint is less of a whodunit and more of a howdunit and whydunit. Ladies’ man and billionaire Yoshitaka Mashiba asked his beautiful and patchwork quilt artiste Ayane Mita for a divorce because ‘they did not have children after one year of marriage’, knowing that he would then move on to his mistress and also Ayane’s apprentice, Hiromi Wakayama. Two days later, he is found face down, sprawled on the wooden floor, with a spilled cup of coffee next to him.
His wife who had a motive, was miles away at her parent’s place while his mistress, with no apparent motive to kill him was present throughout. Arsenous acid is found in the coffee, which was drank by Hiromi a day before, but with no fatality. So who poisoned Yoshitaka with such precision and how?
This question torments Detective Kusanagi and the latest entrant to Kusanagi’s department, feisty female detective Utsumi. The approach that this book takes is to take along the readers through a very detailed police procedural and investigation. Even though the readers already have a hint about the culprit, they go through the working of a detective’s mind as they figure out the relationships between the three, unravel Yoshitaka’s past and take a peek into their lives to find out how the seemingly perfect crime was pulled of.
Kusanagi’s feelings for the beautiful Ayane prompts Utsumi to knock the doors of Professor Yukawa, who teaches Physics at the university but loves to solve unsolvable riddles like how poison reached the coffee cup. After a number of failed attempts and conjectures, he eventually comes up with the most brilliant but utterly impractical method of poisoning. But there’s still no evidence to nail the murderer. By the time the evidence is conjured out of a drawer and the suspect is confronted with it, I was hoping for a quick finish; something which I never felt while reading Devotion.
At times I must admit the book feels tedious — probably because the police investigation is so painstaking — and the solution is quite contrived and highly implausible. But I did enjoy the police banter, particularly the tension, competitiveness and humour between Kusanagi, the old, jaded detective and Utsumi, the young, bright and tenacious detective with sharp intution. Nothing in the book is inconsequential and one might be tempted to read it twice; the first time for the enjoyment of the story and the second to pick up on all the clues and cues that were missed originally.
And while I don’t think Salvation of a Saint is a patch on The Devotion of Suspect X, it is nevertheless a good read about a complex, puzzling case with an emphasis on deciphering clues and figuring out how a simple crime could be committed so perfectly. If you are looking for a crime novel that is refreshingly different, definitely give it a try.
P.S. – It is time they stop comparing Higashino with Larsson. The Japanese author has his own unique style in the world of crime novels.
My rating – 7/10
Twelve spine-chilling stories from a writer whose sleight of hand with black humour is hard to match. In A Brief Lesson in Trust, Geeti learns the hard way that the most reliable girl in school is not always what she seems; in St. George and the Dragon, Mr George, the archetypal government clerk finds a fiendishly clever way to outstmart his corrupt boss while The Howling Waves of Tranquebar takes us to this tiny Danish settlement of yore where an innocuous-looking beer mug still has strange powers of destruction. These and other stories in this collection entertain, amuse – but always end with a twist in the tale that leaves a few goosebumps.
A collection of short stories is always a treat to story lovers like me – short, sweet and many The stories in this anthrology are short and many but not sweet; instead they are darkly humorous or humorously dark. Some are spine-chilling, some are shock-inducing but there is one thing common among all of them – they all have uniformly and deliciously interesting plots and killer twists at the end.
One important element in any story is characters and the author scores a perfect ten there. Each and every character is well-etched, believable and real-life. At every moment I felt that the characters are found in our day-today lives – amongst our neighbours, colleagues, friends and family. The plots are part-sinister, part-humorous which has made the stories both gripping and entertaining at the same time.
Describing each story would take away the surprise element from them, so I will steer clear from giving away spoilers. But some of the stories deserve special mention.
“A Tale of a Summer Vacation” describes what a young girl observes around her during her stay with her grandmother. The narrative shows exactly what the girl sees and feels, which in turn makes the reader at one with story. Add to that a most unexpected twist and the story becomes one of the best in the collection.
“My Lawfully Wedded Husband” begins with the average bored wife describing her husband in detail and you begin to wonder where it is leading to. The narration matches the mood of the wife which oscillates from being caustic to condescending and hurls the readers to a sudden shocking end. The feeling was almost that of being hurled headfirst into a pool of chilling water.
“Hourie” is a mystery in the most unusual set-up – a brothel. It revolves around a ‘sinduk’ and what lies inside it. From customers to fellow inmates – everyone is eager to lay his hand on its riches. What happens at the end when its contents are revealed lifts the whole story to a different level all together.
“St George and Dragon” is, at its core, a love story with a twist. It has a Government babu, his nondescript PA, the beautiful female colleague and dollops of corruption. Though a predictable plot, the handling of the same is what makes all the difference.
“The Crusader”, in my opinion, has the most hilarous ending among all the stories in the collection. In her ingenuous manner, the author takes a simple event and weaves a story around it.
“Sum Total”, “On the Nigh Train”, “Number 63″, and “Feet of Clay” are some of the other beautiful short stories in the collection. However, “A Brief Lesson in Trust” and “Silent Fear” fell short among more brilliant cousins in the collection.
Overall, a wonderful, breezy read for the short story lovers.
Just a short post to remind you all (and myself) that I am still here… in the blogosphere… lurking in the background waiting for inspiration for the perfect post to strike me.
While I am still waiting, I thought I will do a quick, short post.
Right now, I am sitting in office and it is Saraswati Puja today. For the old-timers on my blog, I have said it before a number of times how important this festival is for me. But then, it is a working day and I am yet to complete my probation year in my new job (meaning I dont have leaves), so here I am sitting in office (typing in the wordpress “new post” tab quickly before anyone catches me at it).
So the only way to celebrate is to wear yellow coloured sari and have khichudi.
Today is the first time in my life I am wearing a sari (that too, a fluffy taant one) for more than 10 hours at a stretch! In all previous ocassions, I have worn a sari only for about 3-4 hours. Today I have gained a new-found respect for women (ma and kakimas and others) who wear a sari 24*7 and go about their daily lives comfortably! I wonder how they manage, especially after having a heavy lunch?
A big thank you to all those who read it, appreciated it and voted for it!
Now the real task has begun – I will have to write the full story by 31 March, based on which they will decide the final list, which will then be made into an anthology of love stories
Pray for me.. and wish me luck for the same…
I am just too happy today.. for reasons more than just this one… So what better way to express it than through my blog?
Never before have I felt so empty after bidding a year goodbye! Never before has one year been so completely, amazingly wonderful! Never before has one year given to me and my family so much to cherish and be thankful for!
I did a similar post to commemorate 2009 – the year which is memorable for both good and the bad. But 2012 has been universally good It was as if God decided to shower his blessings as a never-ending gift in this one year!
- NEW JOB
I have been trying to make a shift in my career for a long time. I had applied to 4 places without success. I was absolutely confident about 2 of them. In fact, in one of them I was orally told that I have been favourably considered, only the formal offer was to be given! It was a very dark phase career-wise and I was battling constantly to remain afloat and not sink into depression. But, then the best offer happened to me! May be, I was destined for this one! I quit my old job in February and joined the new one in March. As the year ends, I am 10 months into my new job and I am loving every bit of it. Thank you God for the tests that you took and the reward you gave me
- NEW HOUSE
Though my father had purchased the new house last year, it was completed fully and finally this year. We did our Griha Pravesh puja and I have already hosted a party on my birthday there. In the new year, we hope to shift into our new 12th floor flat in a 33 Tower residential complex. It was a wondeful dream come slowly true for my family
- NEW CAR
This was my childhood dream-come-true! After months of research and debate, I bought my own car in July this year (with a li’l help from my dear father ). No more arguing with the cabbies, no more running down the stairs to slide into the relatively empty compartment of the metro, no more jostling at Rashbehari crossing for autos, no more worrying on how to return from a late-night party… I have my own transport The bonus – people these days offer me lift till my home and not till some ‘convenient place’!
- NEW DESIGNATION
My father has a new designation After a gruelling GD & PI, he was one of the few hundreds who were selected from a few thousands of employees for the promotion. Congratulations! I am so proud of you
- NEW HOLIDAY DESTINATION
At the moment, my parents are holidaying in SE Asia! They celebrated Christmas Eve at Pattaya and new year in Singapore! I am glad that they finally managed their first foreign trip
- NEW HAPPINESS
The known and the unknown, the experienced and the unexperienced, the heart and the mind has brought so much happiness in my life this year! It seems, these days, I am happy to be just happy!
This year taught me to leave behind the unwanted, embrace the new, ignore the past, welcome the future; shed the baggages, venture into happy possibilities, not to doubt the positives and most important of all, feel the emotions.
I end this year in the hope that the new one will bring even more happiness and positive energy in our lives.
Happy New Year! Have a great one!
P.S. For every one of us who had a great year, there are at least 10 of them who did not. They may have suffered sexual assault and not gotten justice, may have been raped and did not survive the brutality, may have been called a liar but could not prove their case, may have been molested, beaten up, mutilated, traumatised but have battled on. My prayers are with them and all those who support and love them. May women win the battles they have been fighting since dawn.
In the new year, hope the society is a safer and happier place for the women.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 61,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
They were two young people, madly in love with each other. They went out on dates, just like other couples. Their favourite coffee shop was Barista, favourite hangout place was Rabindra Sarobar lake and favourite movie hall was Ragini – neither Fame nor PVR nor Inox, but a small, single screen movie hall in the local neighbourhood. They checked out the movie poster on the hoarding of Ragini every Friday to see which B-grade movie was to be screened next. Then, over the weekend, they would buy two tickets for the matinee show of that movie and spend some private time each other.
Life for them was bliss, till one of them decided to introduce the other to his family… not as a friend or a brother, but as a lover. The father hurled expletives at him, the mother cried, screamed and tried every method to drill some ‘sense’ in him and the sister said that she was ‘ashamed’ of him. The local youth got to know and came home with warnings that if he did not stop ‘polluting’ the neighbourhood, the family would be driven away. He was barred from going out of the house and from keeping any contact with his lover. He was told by everybody that he was dirty…an aberration… and that he had no right to love.
The story explores the trials and tribulations faced by these two young people, who were brought together by their intense love but were forced apart by extreme hatred of people around them. It is a story of both despair and strength of the two lovers in the face of obstacles and adversity.
What Makes This Story ‘Real’
When I volunteered for an NGO dedicated for the rights and lives of the LGBT community in Kolkata, I became involved with this tragic real-life story. It left an indelible mark in my mind and so for this contest, I chose to tell this story in the hope that in today’s India, such love stories would no more be forced by people and circumstances to end in misery.
If you want to read the full story, please go over to http://www.indiblogger.in/getpublished/idea/352/ and vote for my post by clicking on the ‘heart’. Spread the love!
P.S. This is only a story idea. If this idea gets enough votes, I will be shortlisted to write the full story, which may be published by HarperCollins as part of an anthology So please vote and wish me luck
If a friend supported you at times when you were low, it’s cruel to forget that friend when you are happy..
If a friend helped you achieve something precious, it’s cruel to forget that friend after it’s all over…
If a friend helped you gain more friends, it’s cruel to forget that friend and remember the others…
If a friend patiently listened while you rambled for days, it’ s cruel not to respond to that friend when you are needed…
If a friend gave you shelter and offered an outlet for all your emotions, it’s cruel to abandon that friend just because you may have become busier…
And I am being cruel..
And I miss my friend, in fact my best friend who silently sheltered me against all things bad when there were no one…
And my friend is my blog..
2012 has been a very very happy year.. unlike the previous ones… And I notice that I have blogged less and less in this year… may be I was too busy or too happy or just too exhausted… I gave it the name of writer’s block but admit that this was just an excuse….
But I will make up for it, my friend.
And I will be more regular.
After all, it’s cruel to forget an all-weather friend during fair weather