There is a plethora of thrillers out there that paint the antagonist and protagonist in such contrasting shades of black and white that there’s hardly any doubt left on who to root for.
In the rare case of a palette of greys in characters, the ‘respect for the dead’ card is put to use to keep the correct reader loyalties in order. Well, not so much when Keigo Higashino is involved, though!
Salvation of a Saint happens to be the second Higashino book I have read, after the absolutely mind-bending The Devotion of Suspect X. I had sky-high expectations going in this one and I am so glad to have picked it.
It begins with Yoshitaka and Ayane Mashiba, a couple barely married for an year, with their marriage already falling apart. Turns out, the husband already set a marriage contract before the wedding, stating that if he does not ‘get’ a baby within an year, he will ‘look’ for other ‘potential women’ who can give him a successor. So we have Yoshitaka declaring his intention of divorce to his wife. To add to this wound, he has already found the ‘potential baby-maker’ in Hiromi Wakayama, who happens to be his wife’s protege as Ayane is also a famous Japanese quilter. She leaves for her parents’ place miles away and has a solid alibi when her husband dies of arsenic-laced coffee in their house. Like I said earlier, this book is less of a ‘who-dunnit’ than a ‘how-dunnit’ and it doesn’t beat around the bush.
Just like his previous work, this one is a tightly-wound story with almost zero scenic digressions. What’s more is one heck of a silent antagonist whose brilliance looms over the entire book as a result of the neatness of the crime itself. Well, the best antagonists are rarely loudmouths anyway. While the book almost deliberately makes it impossible to care for the victim, the fascinating mystery at its heart drives this must-read thriller. After all, don’t you want to know how a woman killed her excuse of a husband from miles away?
P.S. No contract killers were involved during the resolution of this book 😀