Similar to Keigo Higashino‘s previous novel, Salvation of a Saint starts with a murder too. Apparently the victim’s coffee was poisoned. His wife was hundreds of miles away visiting her parents and his lover had met him just that morning. Both become the primary suspects in the case because he didn’t have any other personal relationships, only business contacts and this murder, clearly, wasn’t because of business rivalry.
Further investigations show that, although the wife had a motive, she also had a perfect alibi and she was actually away. Further developments also eliminate his lover from the suspect list because she was pregnant with the victim’s child and she didn’t have any motive to kill.
So, the police try to dig into the victim’s past relationships to check if someone had a motive to kill. Although it does reveal some facts, they ultimately reach a dead-end there too.
That’s when Yukawa, the brilliant physicist, also nicknamed as Galileo, comes up with a logical plan. He himself has doubts over it but says that it’s the only possible explanation to the murder. The police laugh it off and say that it’s impossible but they don’t have any other clue or lead or theory. Ultimately, they do have to accept his theory as the murderer had actually followed the same.
There is endless amount of coffee that is being drunk and being talked about. Almost every other page has a mention of coffee at least once, if not more. So much so that it does annoy a bit. Also, another repetitive thing is “Standard police procedure, cannot reveal more” and “We are just covering all the bases.”
After a certain point, since the police investigation leads nowhere, you do get irritated with the novel. The investigators keep moving round and round and arrive at dead-ends on each lead. And, just like the police, you wish that there was something to go on.
Keigo makes it all up in the climax which was startling to say the least. The detailing, the carefulness, the precision and the patience of the killer are mind-boggling. You can’t believe someone can have such deep hatred for someone that they could wait so long to kill.
Also, Keigo, similar to his previous novel, justifies the title in the end. (Although, the killer was not exactly a saint)
The beauty of The Devotion Of Suspect X was that it showed the Japanese culture. You could feel the setting of Japanese streets, households, lifestyle etc in that novel which is certainly lacking in this one. Except names, almost nothing makes you feel that the setting was in Japan. It could as well have been anywhere else for that matter.
Also, there, a Mathematician was pitted against a Physicist and it was more of a battle of wits. Here, there is ground-work and a lot of it which ultimately leads the police (and readers) nowhere.
So, independently, Salvation Of A Saint is a wonderful novel. A perfect crime saga with a fitting climax. No mystery lover would have asked for more.
But when you compare it to the author’s previous work, which was nothing short of a master-piece, you do get a bit disappointed as your expectations are sky-high after reading it.
Makes for a beautiful read, nevertheless.