The Salaryman's Wife: Rei Shimura Mysteries 1

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Teaser: In The Salaryman's Wife, we are introduced to Shimura Rei, who has moved to Tokyo from San Fransisco to pursue a career in the trade of Japanese antiques. She relishes life in Japan with its understated beauty and politeness, and she seemingly turns her nose up at the lifestyle of brashness she left behind in America. Her determination to fit in as a native Japanese gets sideswiped as she encounters a dashing Scotsman by the name of Hugh on a vacation at a ryokan (Japanese style inn). Not only does Rei begin to fight internally about her heritage, but she finds herself "smack-in-the-middle" of a murder investigation of one of inn's guests.

Short Thought: Wonderful mystery with a perfect mix of Eastern and Western cultures.

Expanded Thoughts: I have had this on my reading queue for awhile, but I have held off becuase I usually pick the historical pieces set in Japan over contemporary ones. It was one of the best murder mysteries that I have read in awhile.

There are a lot of things that I absolutely love. One thing in particular, Massey uses a ryokan (Japanese Style Inn) as the setting for this murder. It can sound a bit intimidating for readers who are unfamiliar with Japanese culture, architecture, and customs, but she portrays the story in such a way that everyone can easily understand and picture it. Also, those readers with some working knowledge of Japanese culture also find new and interesting details around every corner.

Another thing that I love is the 'east v. west' theme. Rei, the main character, is half American and half Japanese. She looks like she could be a full Japanese, and strives to meld into the Japanese culture. Unfortunately, her 'bull in a china shop' American attitude doesn't mix well with the delicate and beautiful Japanese traditions. She also finds herself in a relationship with a Scotman who is as Western as they come. It's this inner struggle of hers that brings another dimension to the novel.

Additional Notes: This novel contains scenes of a mild sexual nature.

Additional Notes(2): This is the first novel in the Rei Shimura Mysteries by Sujata Massey.

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