|Me in the dark dark world of the suspect X|
*** (Three and a half stars)
This bundle of nail-biting thrill and emotional turmoil spread over 374 pages takes you to the inner workings of a genius mathematician Ishigami who also happens to be a borderline-psychotic lover. This obsession leads to a chain of events which end up as a tangled mess. This mess is attempted to be sorted by another genius physicist Yukawa. Just like mathematics and physics differ in their basic philosophy, these two geniuses also have differences in their ideologies and approaches toward problem solving. Who wins in this tug of war between the two, you’ll have to read the novel to find out.
The character sketches are very vivid. Yasuko Hanaoka- the divorced single mother is a character you’ll empathize and hate at different times of the story. She is a victim no doubt but she ends up committing a crime as heinous as murder and later covering up for it. There are times where sense of guilt goes missing from her character which makes you hate her a bit. She finds time to indulge herself in those testing times. Her abusive ex-husband Togashi’s character is the one I’d like to refer to as one that can be easily hated. He is an almost movie-villain like personality- snarling his way into Yasuko’s life, stalking her, making her and her daughter Misato’s lives miserable to no end. So much so that Yasuko and Misato end up murdering Togashi. This is when Ishigami’s mad love brings him to rescue the damsels in distress where he weaves a puzzle to confuse the police. His character is lovable and charming, so much so that you end up rooting for the murderers and their accomplice. His elaborate plan is like a mathematical puzzle which baffles and confuses the police; it would have been a no competition had there not been a certain Mr. Yukawa on the detectives’ side. Turned out that Ishigami and Yukawa had studied together and knew each other too well. This leads to interesting twists in the plot. There is also a line up of various characters providing alibis which keep swinging the favours toward both sides alternatively.
The pace of the plot is quite good too, it is a fast read and you can finish the book in a matter of hours. You can almost picture the movie through the descriptions in the dark alleys of Japan. The cold weather, trench coats, hats all provide the elements necessary in a thriller. There is an interesting use of wordplay which can be sensed in the dialogues; there must be some things lost in translation. Also, this pace and rapid exit and entrance of well defined characters tends to make me believe that the author had a movie in mind during the time he was penning the book down. Of course you can enjoy the privileges of reading a book i.e. you get to know what exactly is going on in the character’s mind instead of guessing it from his expressions in the movie but the black and white portrayal of characters where everyone seems to know their role: good or bad, tends to make the book a bit too dramatic.
The quality of translation is pretty good although it depends on what your definition of “good” is. Alexander O. Smith has done a decent job in making the novel readable to even first time readers. The language has been kept simple and there is not a single long tangled sentence in the whole book. Although repetitions of phrases like “wry smile” and “he chuckled” tend to be annoying at a few places but that is the price you pay to keep a mass appeal in the novel.
The fonts are clear with no misprints as expected from Hachette India. The cover page stimulates the imagination just about right. The climax is almost poetic but unexpected. The last few pages make the full read worthwhile. All in all, a good read. You won’t feel cheated when you finish reading the novel.
And here is the Facebook Fan Page for the novel- Fan page