From Goodreads: 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.
What a twisty surprising book this was! It surprised me by how much I liked it and it surprised me because I didn't figure out the twists until the author decided to reveal them. I threw my name in the hat to receive this one as a first reads from Goodreads for a completely shallow reason - it had an X featured prominently in the title and I always need an "X" book to finish the A-Z Reading Challenge. I went into it assuming that despite the accolades Higashino had received in his country, Japan, it would be hard for me to read and I would have to suffer through. Boy, was I wrong. Once I got started, I couldn't put the book down and basically read it through in one sitting. The whodunit is revealed almost immediately but the cat and mouse of those investigating the crime just keeps revealing more twists and I kept wanting to turn another page to see what would happen next. The twists had me questioning every character, even the people who at first seem most sympathetic, and wondering if they should be trusted.
I had some difficulty with all the Japanese names, reminded me of reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and all the Swedish names, but eventually I got used to them. There was a math/physics element as Ishigami is a math teacher and his friend is a physics professor; they spend time discussing equations, proofs, theorems,...all swept right over my head but didn't detract from the story. I imagine there were some subtle parallels running between all that math/physics chatter and the plot but I'll leave that to others to figure out! Finally, there were bits and pieces of Japanese culture that made it different enough from the average American murder-mystery that it will stick with me for awhile.
This will be my X book for the A-Z Reading Challenge hosted by Becky. Click on the logo to see my progress.