The Salaryman’s Wife

The Salaryman's Wife
Sujata Massey
Harper Paperbacks, 1997
Purchase from Amazon (paid link)

What on earth is this review doing here? A murder mystery with no connection to the martial arts?

Well, it is summer, and we are supposed to take some time off for more frivolous pursuits, but that’s not why I’m introducing Sujata Massey’s books to you here. These novels portray with stunning accuracy a foreigner’s daily life in Tokyo. If you want to know what life in urban Japan is like, read these books!

The heroine, Rei Shimura, is an American woman whose father is Japanese. She ekes out a precarious existence as an English language teacher in Tokyo (sound familiar?). On a year end vacation in a castle town up in the mountains, Rei becomes embroiled in the death of a salaryman’s wife, literally stumbling upon her body in the snow. When the other foreigner on the scene, a Scotsman by the name of Hugh Glendinning, is jailed based on an innocent comment of Rei’s, she begins to delve into the murder, for so it turns out to be.

Mystery fans will enjoy the well-crafted plot, lively characters, and satisfying denouement. Budo folks considering a few years in Japan will get a sneak preview of what life there is really like. Old Japan hands will experience the best sort of nostalgia (in some cases, Meik & I both swear that Massey was modeling some of her characters on real people). Fun and unerringly authentic, I highly recommend all of the Rei Shimura books.

Diane Skoss

Copyright ©2000 Diane Skoss. All rights reserved.