A new crime–thriller full of suspense from Sujata Massey, the acclaimed author of The Bride's Kimono and The Floating Girl.
Antiques dealer Rei Shimura is in San Francisco visiting her parents and researching a personal project tracing the story of 100 years of Japanese decorative arts through her own family's experience. Her work is interrupted by the arrival of her boyfriend, lawyer Hugh Glendinning, who is involved in a class action lawsuit on behalf of aged Asian nationals forced to engage in slave labour for Japanese companies during
World War II.
These two projects suddenly intertwine when one of Hugh's clients is murdered and Rei begins to uncover unsavoury facts about her own family's actions during the war. Rei unravels the truth, finds the killer, and at the same time learns about family ties and loyalty and the universal desire to avoid blame.
Spotlight customer reviews:
Customer Rating: Summary: Good read Comment: It's not as good as some of her other books, but it's still a fun read. The male antagonist is wonderfully depicted.
Overall, this is a great alternative to a standard grocery store mystery novel. She does a good job of showcasing the main female character and revealing slices of Japanese culture.
Great and quick read. You'll love it.
iKnow Customer Rating: Summary: As you know Bob... Comment: This book suffers from chronic "As you know Bob" syndrome. Like a bad science fiction movie the characters have to tell each other all the backstory to fill the viewer in on what has, is and is going to happen. It makes for really stilted dialogue that makes you grit your teeth at it's ridiculousness. "As you know Bob, the alien species first landed on Earth five trillion years ago and formed a colony of lepers underground that now want to take over the world and the only way we can stop them is to play yodelling music because, as you know Bob, only yodelling can destroy the alien lepers." I mean, seriously, you know the information is relevant, but please don't lecture me.
Reading this book made me realize how much mastery it takes to unobtrusively weave backstory and historical facts into a narrative. Here it was so heavyhanded that I felt like I was being slapped in the face with Japanese history every time I turned the page, which is a sad reaction given that I only read the book because I was interested in the Japanese historical aspect of it!!!
It's too bad, I read a previous book of hers and I thought it wasn't bad. Not great, but not bad. Here, I think she was trying to meet a deadline and was rushing through it and, as you know Bob, haste makes waste.
Customer Rating: Summary: The Samurai Might Disown His Daughter . . . Comment: First, a confession: I am not the biggest fan of detective novels, apart from Agatha Christie for whom I have a peculiar and abiding love. Nonetheless, one of my New Years' resolutions was that I would try to read a wider variety of genres, rather than simply sticking to my usual diet of science-fiction and fantasy. With that aim in mind, when I was at the library this week and saw The Samurai's Daughter on the shelf of new books, I thought I would try it. I am interested in Japanese culture in general, and the idea of a detective series set in Japan and America intrigued me, especially as Massey has been praised for her insight into both cultures. Finally, I was curious to see how the novel would handle the sensitive and controversial topic of "comfort women" -- women from China and Korea forced to serve as prostitutes for the occupying Japanese forces -- and the call for them to be paid reparations by either the Japanese government or the national zaibatsu that used them as labour once they were no longer desirable.
That said, I did not find The Samurai's Daughter a good book. It failed to engage with the complex issues that it raised with sufficient depth or sophistication, and it lacked the necessary historical grounding that would have made it truly powerful. Apart from one or two admittedly harrowing details about the lives of comfort women and other indentured labourers, the novel felt as it could have been about any corrupt and evil corporation. It could have involved cigarettes or nuclear waste or even sexual harrassment. It felt to me as if Massey was tentative about engaging with the real horror of what had happened, and the need for the Japanese government to admit their guilt and make restitution.
Moreover, the novel was weak from a technical perspective. The characters were unconvincing. They were cardboard cutouts who were given one or two significant personality traits in an attempt to give them depth, but who failed to live and breathe and convince me of their reality. Similarly, the prose was stilted and clumsy. Massey's descriptions were flat and banal, and almost inevitably involve food and eating for some reason. I frequently felt like I was reading a menu, rather than a novel. She also has a tendency to go into long, didactic explanations about Japanese culture. Many passages are simply information dumps that would not be out of place in a guide book. The weakness of the writing was most evident when it came to the character's dialogue. I understand that Massey was trying to capture the different flavours of Scottish English, American English, and Japanese, but she does not strike me as having a good ear for dialogue and all of the dialects came off as equally unconvincing.
Nonetheless, I have since heard that The Samurai's Daughter is the weakest novel in the series, and I shall certainly try at least one of the others before consigning them all to the category of "good idea but poor execution." Customer Rating: Summary: Wow. I mean, Wow....... Comment: ..... this book...... SUCKED!
I am a voracious reader of mysteries, especially mysteries that involve other cultures. Wanna read a good mystery? Read Bangkok 8 by John Burdett, read anything by Peter Lovesey or Henning Mankell, definitely read Out by Natsuo Kirino, read anything by John Sanford.
Granted, I didn't get past page 50, but this felt like it was written by a 17-year-old girl just trying her hand at writing..... Everything was "telling" instead of "showing". In no way was the reader brought into the story and the people. The language was stilted and the characters were cardboard cutouts. I actually found myself guffawing at the inanities that abounded. I'm a San Franciscian and am embarrassed that it took place (or the part I read took place) in my wonderful city.
Please, there are so many other good mysteries to read. I would bypass this one completely. I don't normally write reviews of books --- but I had to for this one, because I feel so strongly about it. Please, please, please read the ones I suggested above if you really care about interesting, fascinating mysteries. Customer Rating: Summary: As much a novel as a mystery Comment: This book is a bit slower-paced than some of Massey's other works (and I've read all of the series). The subject matter took center stage in this book, and probably rightly so, since the subject was Japanese war crimes during WWII, particularly the issue of reparations for the so-called "comfort women," very young woman of other Asian countries, who were forced to "service" Japanese soldiers or other slave labor. It's all very well to be enthusiastic about many aspects of Japanese culture, but I'm sure many readers wrote to Massey to point out the dark side of Japanese history, one which the Japanese powers-that-be have refused to accept responsibility for and tried to conceal (more so than the Germans have, for example) from their own people. If you're really gung ho about Japan, this dose of reality may make you squirm, but I think it's a point well worth making.
The book begins at Christmas time, with Rei Shimura visiting her San Francisco parents with her boyfriend Hugh. He is working on a class-action case on behalf of survivors of Japanese war crimes who will be suing the major Japanese corporations who benefited from these crimes, particularly slave labor. He takes Rei along in a visit to his chief complainant, an elderly Filipino woman living in poverty in San Francisco. Not long afterwards, a murder occurs, although it appears to the police to be a natural death. Rei doesn't think so, and after she returns to Japan for the New Year's festivities, she continues to investigate. Hugh is also in Japan with her, and Rei becomes convinced that someone on the inside -- either of Hugh's group or the megacorporations they're suing -- is the killer.
Since Rei is also researching her family history (Japanese side of the family), there are digressions into the events leading up to the Second World War which are interesting to me but slowed down the pace of the book.
Still, this book is well worth reading, even for those who like their mysteries with more mystery and less digression.