“It’s a famous one, the P=NP problem. Basically, it asks whether it’s more difficult to think of the solution to a problem yourself or to ascertain if someone else’s answer to the same problem is correct.”
In its essence, the book is about solving the P = NP problem. A dark suspense novel, the Devotion of Suspect X is actually misleading in its title since the actual murder and the people involved in it are laid bare in the first few pages. Tetsuya Ishigami is the very devoted neighbour of Yasuko Hanaoka, a single mother to Misato. She works at a lunch delivery place and is quite content with her life, until he ex husband walks in demanding more than just money. The fear of being blackmailed by him, fearing his influence on her daughter and their future she murders him in a fit of rage at her home. Ishigami who overhears the scuffle from his apartment, comes over deduces what happened and offers to help. What follows the discovery and identification of the body is a game of how did he do it and who actually did it. The detective Kusanagi teams up with Yukawa, a physicist at Imperial college and a close friend of Ishigami to solve a problem that is part math, part mystery and part psychological mind warfare. The climax brings together all the emotions that has been simmering through the novel and will not disappoint the reader.
The book is very deceptive in the sense that it throws up so many contradictions about the characters, the plot and the narrative itself. It reads like it is supposed to be a Japanese opera, but the writing is very devoid of emotion and settles itself for precisely formed adjectives that describe the details and nothing more. Ishigami’s devotion, and his willingness to face jail time belies his almost bellicose physical structure. The daintiness and the beauty that Ishigami describes about Yasuko is hidden by a strength and resolve that helps her stick to her story almost to the end. Brilliant logically performed moves to hide the murder by the mathematician and supreme deductive logic to discover the real killer by the physicist makes the book read like a ballet without the music or the emotions..until it comes to the end. It is a play on how science inspite of its mastery of logic and reasoning has to always give way to the baser human emotions.