In Keigo Higashino’s THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, the question is not who dunnit, but can they get away with it? When divorced, single mother Yasuko strangles her savage and abusive ex-husband, Yasuko’s neighbor, the admiring and analytical math teacher Ishigami, disposes of the body and meticulously plans a cover up. Soon, the police are on the scene aided by brilliant physics professor—nickname Gallileo—an old schoolmate of Ishigami’s. A riveting game of wits between Ishigami and the authorities ensues. THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X somehow manages to be both spare and complex. While it’s true the story centers on an intellectual battle, it is also a book about passions and how they drive us. I think this is the third or fourth book in Higashino’s “Gallileo” series. I hope it proves successful here. I’d love to see the earlier books translated.
Deborah Harkness’s A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is the tale of a long lost alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, discovered in Oxford’s Bodleian Library by visiting Yale historian and witch-in-denial, Diana Bishop. The manuscript leads Diana to 1,500 year old vampire Matthew Clairmont, and a ho-hum romance follows. I really wanted to like this book. For one thing I hate to give bad reviews. For another, the book sounded fun. Witches and vampires all thrown into a box and tied up with history and science? What could be better? Regardless of what you may have read or will read, science and history have little to do with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. While the University scenes are well done—not surprising given that the author is a history professor at USC. Unfortunately, a tell versus show writing style, absolutely no chemistry between the two main characters, and a weak protagonist who spends far too much time eating, sleeping and describing her clothes, made the 600 pages a slog for me. Now you know why I read only two books last month.