Monday, November 11, 2019

Mini-Reviews: Japanese Crime Fiction--Confessions by Kanae Minato & The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

ConfessionsConfessions by Kanae Kinato
Mulholland Books
Publication: August 19th, 2014
Paperback. 235 pages.

About Confessions:
"After calling off her engagement in wake of a tragic revelation, Yuko Moriguchi had nothing to live for except her only child, four-year-old Manami. Now, following an accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.

But first she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that upends everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.

Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you'll never see coming, Confessions explores the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in danger. You'll never look at a classroom the same way again."

I read Kanae Mintao's Penance a few years back and found it to be a compelling thriller that left me wanting to check out more from Minato. It's taken me a while to get around to it, but I've finally done it and it was just as twisty and unexpected as Penance (if not more!). This story thrives on plot twists, so I can't go into any details at all, but I will say that you really need to prepare yourselves for this one because it handles some extremely intense topics.

What I liked: Confessions was nearly unpredictable for me and I had some audible reactions to certain twists and moments that blew me away. This is a book about revenge--revenge that takes its form in so many different ways, and just when you think you have it figured out or think it's all over, there's something new to come and completely prove you wrong. I liked how Minato plays with her storytelling through different perspectives and manages to continuously bring in new ideas and possibilities.

What I didn't like: Since this story centers around a few main characters throughout the book, each each characters gets a certain part of the book to tell their version of the story. Although I like this part of the setup, what I didn't care for was how repetitive it made the book at times. It wasn't overly repetitive since each person tended to have their own unique story, perspective, and background, but it did result in more than a few scenes repeated a few too many times for my liking.

Overall, I've given Confessions four stars!

The Devotion of Suspect X (Detective Galileo, #1)The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
Minotaur Books
Publication Date: February 1st, 2011
Hardcover. 298 pages.

About The Devotion of Suspect X:
"Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered.

When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that day, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense, and it will take a genius to understand the genius behind this particular crime..."

The Devotion of Suspect X is the sort of crime thriller that doesn't really follow a fast-placed plot or have all that much action going on, but it still manages to wrap you up in the story in such a compelling way with countless unpredictable twists.

What I liked: Higashino's careful plotting of the story and how he slowly unveils new information and twists is truly expert. There's a reason why people are always talking about this book! It's completely unexpected at almost every turn and has some incredibly clever ideas wrapped up in it. One of my favorite things that I've tended to notice about Japanese fiction in general is that it has a much 'quieter' feel to it than a lot of non-Japanese books I read. I'm not entirely sure how to describe it, but it's partially due to a focus on the smaller, day-to-day events and details rather than fast-paced, action-heavy, big scene books. It's much more about plotting and the details and important keys to pick up about characters.

What I didn't like: Honestly, there's not a lot that I didn't really like about this book. I would say the only thing holding me back from enjoy it more is that since it doesn't have a particularly fast pace and it delves so deeply into detail and conversations about different specific scenarios, it did feel as though it dragged slightly in some places. It still manages to feel like a fast-moving plot, but since it does have a slower pace and tone it can make it difficult to stay focused at times. I also can't say I ever felt particularly drawn to any of the characters, but I still enjoyed seeing their reactions and involvements within this book.

Overall, I've also given the Devotion of Suspect X four stars!

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