Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Devotion of Suspect X

   tags: mystery-crime, psychological thriller, cultural-Japanese

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 Book Synopsis from
Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step. 
When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko’s manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there’s something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.

I enjoy a mystery thriller whenever the killer/s are known early on. This Japanese novel in particular, pitting 2 geniuses against each other is pure pleasure to read. Who will prevail: the physicist or the mathematician? The novel is full of twists and turns that I never saw coming. Highly recommended.

The novel spawned 2 movies, one from Japan and one from Korea, and a Japanese TV series. I read the book first last year before watching both movie versions. 

The Japanese version: Suspect X

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The movie is good but not great. It's not as compelling as the book and looks like a Made-for-TV flick. I took out 1 star out of 4 because of the female rookie cop replacing the original male cop as the physicist's "partner" in solving the puzzle. It makes no sense since she is not the physicist's friend from college who together frequently discuss crimes and possibilities, think Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. She also annoyed me constantly. The film makers had to have a female detective working with the physicist for the TV series. 

The Korean version - Suspect X/Perfect Number

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The Koreans just know how to make an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The title, cast, cinematography, dialog, acting, and script are just about perfect. Although they added a few stuff, they didn't distract from the essence of the novel. 

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