Higashino, Keigo. Salvation of a Saint.

NY: St. Martin, 2012.

This is the second novel featuring Tokyo homicide detective Kusanagi and his physicist friend, Yukawa, who helps out the police with their more technical mysteries and puzzles, and who has become known to the cops as “Detective Galileo.” The mystery this time centers on the death by arsenic poisoning in his own kitchen of Yoshitoka Mashiba, a corporate CEO.

He had just informed Ayane, his wife of less than a year, that he was divorcing her because she hadn’t gotten pregnant. As far as he’s concerned, producing offspring is the whole point — the only point — of marriage, and he will just have to find a more fertile replacement for her.

And a couple days later, he’s dead and his wife is the obvious suspect — but she was off visiting her parents in the wilds of Hokkaido. Ayane is a fabric artist whose patchwork designs go for fabulous prices, and she has an assistant and protégé named Hiromi Wakayama. Kusanagi and his team are looking into her movements, too, especially since she discovered the body, but she doesn’t seem the type for murder. And there’s the deceased’s close friend and attorney, and his wife. It all boils down to working out just how the arsenic got into Mashiba’s coffee — and that’s where Detective Galileo comes in.

Kusanagi is no dummy but he’s distracted this time by an ungovernable infatuation for the suspect widow. We also meet Utsumi, a newly promoted junior detective of the female persuasion whom Kusanagi worries might depend too much on her intuition. But Utsumi is much sharper than that.

All in all, it’s a very satisfying plot and when you finally discover exactly what happened, you will realize that all the clues were there all along. But it’s most unlikely you will have figured it all out. There’s a third book due out in translation this year and I’ll be watching for it.


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