Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Devotion of Suspect X - Chapter 2

Time is at a premium for me, still, so reading has taken a back seat to other things for a while. Nevertheless, I haven't been able to completely stay away from our hostess-turned-bakery-assistant and her wayward husband we met in chapter 1. Onward!

Chapter 2

Our journey through "The Devotion of Suspect X" continues, despite work- and holiday-related interruptions. When we last left the book at the end of Chapter 1, Yasuko and her daughter Misato had a decidedly unsavoury visit from Yasuko's abusive former husband and ne'er-do-well Toshige, and we left just as Misato clubbed him over the head with a heavy copper vase in the hallway.

Was he hurt? Dead, perhaps? No. Enraged he stepped up and proceeded to beat up Misato. Fearing that he'd actually kill their daughter, Yasuko grabs a power cord from the kotatsu table and yanks it around his neck. Misato holds on to the desperately struggling Toshige while while her mother Yasuko strangles him with the cord. I must say that in an era where family activities are disappearing and generations no longer interact, it's uplifting to see three people really come together as a family and enjoy a physical activity with each other rather than be cooped up alone with the tv or some video game.

Anyway, the wayward husband, father and overall douchebag has only barely kicked the bucket when the doorbell rings. Yasuko sends Misato to the other room, covers the undearly departed with the kotatsu blanket and opens the door. It's none other than Ishigami, our lovestruck math teacher from chapter one. He lives right next door, it turns out, and wonders what the noise was. Yasuko mumbles some excuse about chasing a cockroach and sends him away.

Yasuko has just decided she'll have to call the police, despite her worries about Misato (she did help kill her father after all) when the phone rings. It's Ishigami - again - now wondering if she would appreciate help with the dead body she's got, seeing how a single woman would have a hard time moving it.

Our math teacher, having nothing on Sherlock Holmes, has figured out what happened only from vague clues glimpsed through the door crack: her tousled hair, cigarette smoke from a discarded soda can, that sort of thing. Never mind that the same clues could have a simpler, more likely explanation; this is a detective story and suspension of disbelief is part of the package.

After a bit of back and forth she decides the police can wait, so Misato cleans the crime scene while Yasuko and Ishigami drags the very deceased Toshige's body over to his apartment. As the saying goes: "Friends will help you move; real friends will help you move bodies". And truly, Ishigami is a veritable sir Lancelot here, apart from the whole cover-up-a-murder thing, which I don't theing the real Lancelot would have approved of. He does a bit of thinking, and decides a false trail is appropriate. As we leave the scene he asks her to help him get the clothes off the body.

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Oh, and if it's not clear from my tone above, I truly enjoy murder mysteries in general, and this book in particular. They have a lot of genre conventions, and the plots are not meant to make a huge amount of sense. Poking gentle fun at them is part of the enjoyment.

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