~written by Keigo Higashino
~translated by Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander
Salvation of a Saint is the third novel by Keigo Higashino to be translated into English (and the third that I have read), following Naoko and The Devotion of Suspect X. Salvation of a Saint is the fifth book in Higashino's Detective Galileo series (The Devotion of Suspect X is the third). But, like many mystery series, the individual Detective Galileo volumes are largely able to stand on their own. Salvation of a Saint was first published in Japan in 2008. Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander's English translation was released in 2012 by Minotaur, the mystery and suspense imprint of St. Martin's Press. I enjoyed both Naoko and The Devotion of Suspect X immensely; I was very excited to learn that Salvation of a Saint was being released in English. Even though technically published out of order, I am very glad to have the opportunity to read more Detective Galileo.
When Yoshitaka Mashiba is found poisoned in his home, the Tokyo police have their work cut out for them. It doesn't appear to be a suicide and yet he doesn't seem to have made any enemies, either. The only person with a clear motive is Yoshitaka's wife, Ayane, except that she was in Hokkaido visiting her parents at the time of his death. The more the detectives investigate, the more is revealed about the Mashibas' personal lives. Detectives Kusanagi and Utsumi have developed plenty of theories explaining Yoshitaka's death, but they still need to find the evidence to support them. Eventually Utsumi calls upon Manabu Yukawa, a physicist who has helped to solve past cases, earning him the nickname of "Detective Galileo." Even though he isn't interested in working with the police after having a falling out with Kusanagi, Yukawa is intrigued by what at first appears to be the perfect crime.
It's fairly clear, to the readers at least, who the culprit in Salvation of a Saint actually is. In this way, Salvation of a Saint is similar to The Devotion of Suspect X. However, each novel is filled with their own unexpected story twists. It's not just important who committed the crime in Salvation of a Saint; much of the mystery focuses on how the person was even able to pull it off. Even the motive behind Yoshitaka's murder is revealed to be much more complicated and involved than initially thought. Once again, Higashino has written and engaging and compelling scenario. I didn't find it to be as emotionally hard-hitting as The Devotion of Suspect X, but Salvation of a Saint was still surprising. The novel is a clever page-turner. Once I started reading it, I didn't want to put the novel down. I picked up on all of the clues that Higashino dropped and felt compelled to finish the book quickly in order to discover how they all fit together.
Salvation of a Saint isn't an action-packed thriller. In fact, there is a lot of dialogue and discussion as the investigators work things out. But, the novel is still intellectually invigorating and very satisfying. I'm quite fond of Professor Yukawa. The series may take its name from him, but he's almost a supporting character. I particularly enjoyed the scenes that he shared with Detective Kusanagi. The two may have their problems, but they're old friends. Their good-natured ribbing greatly amuses me. I'd actually like to know more about their relationship, which I can only assume has been addressed in more detail in earlier volumes of Detective Galileo. Granted, there is still enough in Salvation of a Saint to get a good sense of their friendship. I'm sincerely looking forward to their return in the next Detective Galileo novel scheduled to be released in English, A Midsummer's Equation.