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Salaryman's Wife [Mass Market Paperback]

Sujata Massey
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 17 1997 Children of Violence Series
Japanese-American Rei Shimura is a 27-year-old English teacher living in one of Tokyo's seediest neighborhoods. She doesn't make much money, but she wouldn't go back home to California even if she had a free ticket (which, thanks to her parents, she does.) Her independence is threatened however, when a getaway to an ancient castle town is marred by murder.

Rei is the first to find the beautiful wife of a high-powered businessman, dead in the snow. Taking charge, as usual, Rei searches for clues by crashing a funeral, posing as a bar-girl, and somehow ending up pursued by police and paparazzi alike. In the meantime, she manages to piece together a strange, ever-changing puzzle--one that is built on lies and held together by years of sex and deception.

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From Amazon

The Salaryman's Wife is proof that arts grants do occasionally produce good art. Sujata Massey taught English in Japan and worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. She applied for and won the Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, which allowed her to finish this beautifully crafted story of cross-cultural suspense.

Rei Shimura is a 27-year-old Japanese American English teacher, living precariously on her tiny paycheck in Tokyo, the most expensive city in the world. She's determined not to use the plane ticket back to California offered by her parents. On a visit to the ancient castle town of Shiroyama, brought to such rich life that you'll want to head there instantly, Rei gets involved in a local murder. Her probing angers the conservative police and most of the citizens, but Rei persists, in spite of threats to her life and freedom. Her character is so well conceived and her adventures so believable that readers across the world should identify with Rei--and hope for a second serving soon.


"A terrific debut, crafted with surprising twists and turns, and steeped in the flavor of contemporary Japan." -- -- Jonnie Jacobs

"A witty, perceptive take on how contemporary society clashed with traditional culture in modern Japan." -- -- Laura John Rowland

"This book is a magic carpet to the Japanese Alps, and serves up murder as well. Great reading!" -- -- Barbara D'Amato

"A terrific debut, crafted with surprising twists and turns, and steeped in the flavor of contemporary Japan." -- Jonnie Jacobs

"A witty, perceptive take on how contemporary society clashed with traditional culture in modern Japan." -- Laura John Rowland

"Sujata Massey blasts her way into fiction with The Salaryman's Wife, a cross-cultural mystery of manners with a decidedly sexy edge." -- Janet Evanonich

"This book is a magic carpet to the Japanese Alps, and serves up murder as well. Great reading!" -- Barbara D'Amato

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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I suppose there are worse places to spend New Year's Eve than a crowded train with a stranger's hand inching up your thigh. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool Mix of Hip, CyperPunk vs Traditinal Oct. 20 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It was interesting to see the cultural crash of Hip, CyberPunk, Slummy, Night-life Japan crashing into the Beautiful, Traditional, frigid, rejecting Japan.
It also seemed that the seedy side of town was a lot nicer to her then the "upstanding" side of town. She hangs with the other rejected folks, the foreigners, gays, etc. They provide a family and support network that are fascinating to see. (It's this way here, if you don't fit in with the local environment's Barbie's and Ken's, then you drift to the rejected ones.)
It was a little sad to see her pursuing acceptance in a country that would never accept her. Their hangup: she's a mixed race, poor, short-haired, old-maid foreigner.
I've never been to Japan, but I've known (long-term) some (traditional) Japanese guys born here, that seem to reflect a lot of the attitudes that the Rei has experienced. Sorta extreme sexism, extremely spoiled, xenophobia, germ-aphobia, fat-aphobia, smell-aphobia, poor-aphobia... My sibling, hanging with foreign grad students would agree on 80% of the traditional guys.
Anyway so she's being rejected strenously by Japanese mainstream, yet getting groped on trains and getting tricked by her salary-men students to get up on desks to pose for a birthday-party picture, then the guys jab the camera under her skirt taking snapshots. Everyday's a frat party for the salarymen, they are gods.
Story line: she goes to the Japanese Alps for a vacation. She stays in a bed & breakfast and meets the other residents. One of the residents gets killed, her cretin husband is the suspect, as well as this HOT Scottish guy. Wierd things start to happen after the murder.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great look at life in Japan, but a mystery..... Sept. 4 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book because I have a family member who is living in Japan and married to a Japanese woman and I wanted to get a feel for what life there must be like for a foreigner. In this respect Ms. Massey paints a fantastic picture. I enjoyed the look at Japanese culture and interaction both with each other and with foreigners. However the mystery in this book was not really that hard to solve - I would have liked a little more trouble in that case.
Perhaps my real problem though is a lack of good editing. While Ms. Massey's writing is excellent I found myself on more than one occassion tripping over a reference to something that had never occurred anywhere in the book. An example is that the main character, Rei, is surprised in the bath when a man walks in, not realizing it was for women only. Later on the man apologizes to her and references having learned she has been sexually assaulted and post traumatic stress disorder. My guess is this must have been a plot direction which Ms Massey later disgarded, but this particular reference didn't get deleted. It is a small error yes, but when you are caught up in a story such a reference can be jarring to the reader. I found myself going backwards to see if I'd missed something rather than going forwards.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Zen Mystery May 7 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This exquisitely told book has a calm and simple aura that belies its fast-paced story. The first in the Rei Shimura series, it is entirely original--something akin to a traditional Japanese tea ceremony with some good old American moxie thrown in.
Rei Shimura is the cherished twentysomething daughter of mixed-heritage wealthy parents. Her father is Japanese, her mother is American, and Rei is an uneasy mixture of both. She has stubbornly chosen to make her own way in Tokyo as a teacher of English to Japanese businessmen in a corporation. Rei, however, is far from the corporate type. She lives by choice in a dicey neighborhood with an openly gay male companion, the delightful Richard. Her passion is antiques, but she can afford very few. Her clothes are shabby, but not chic. And her hair is unfashionably short, which causes quite a bit of comment, most of it negative, among conservative Japanese.
When Rei takes a much-needed vacation to a ski resort, her warring sensibilities are even more heightened. She loves the ritual of the bath, she loves the zen-like meals and atmosphere of the hotel at which she is staying--but when the beautiful wife of a Japanese businessman is found mysteriously dead on the premises, Rei's impatient American nature leaps to the fore. Convinced it was murder, Rei feels compelled to solve it, at her own considerable risk and that of her unlikely "partner in crime," a Scottish lawyer named Hugh Glendenning.
Even as she is increasingly attracted to the Scotsman, Rei wonders: Did he have something to do with the death of the woman? Was he her lover? Is he friend or is he foe--and what in the world can she do to squelch her growing desire for this highly unsuitable man?
All the answers come in good the great delight of this reader, who has already ordered the next in the series. Very highly recommended!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Zoinks, Scooby Doo had better stories than this Sept. 5 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this on the basis of reviews here on Amazon, and all I can say is there must be alot of easily pleased people out there who want a weak mystery based in Japan with slight bits of sex to spice it up. While I had some doubts early on, I chalked them up to rookie mistakes...but by the end, it was fairly clear that is simply not a very good book at all. The character is spirited and willful, which I did find refreshing for a while but then she just became erratic and annoying. And some of the plot "twists" are just awful...'Alright Scooby, you dress as a maid and break into a sinister character's house to steal some evidence while I ring the front door and pretend to be Jehovah witness.' I was half expecting to see a line similar to "this plan is so crazy, it's gotta work" somewhere in the text. This is one of those books that becomes a series because the publisher thinks it has a good marketing angle vs. it actually being any good. Now if you don't have any real interest to know anything more than a comic book view of Japan (mobsters, crowded trains, numerous ways to say no without actually using the word "no", and hostess bars), then you'll probably enjoy this book. If you're looking for something a bit more realistic and that tells you something about Japan, then you should avoid this book.......
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An auspicious debut for a gifted author!
"The Salaryman's Wife" is a must for those who like their mystery with a dash of the exotic. Rei Shimura is a young Japanese-American woman living in Tokyo. Read more
Published on May 25 2003 by Kimberly Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery keeps you guessing
I enjoyed this book - it was very well written for a first novel and the mystery kept me guessing.
Rei, the main character is earnest, tenacious, hot headed and a bit... Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2002 by R. E. Viewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong, Delicate, Enticing Complexity
You wouldn't think that a murder mystery would be the best introduction to another country, but Massey does for Japan what Hillerman does for the Native American Southwest: she... Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2002 by Lawrence E. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
The last thing that Rei Shimura want to do on her vacation is get mixed up in a murder, but that is exactly what happens to this 27-year-old Japanese-American expatriate. Read more
Published on July 22 2002 by Alicia K. Ahlvers
5.0 out of 5 stars Really fascinating idea for a refreshing new series.
THE SALARYMAN'S WIFE is the first entry in this new series featuring Rei Shimura as an American teaching English in Japan. Read more
Published on April 26 2002 by MLPlayfair
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good book!
I read this book and went out and bought her next two books right away! I bought this one because I love Japan, but you don't need to love Japan to enjoy this book! Read more
Published on Dec 30 2001 by Deborah Kemp
5.0 out of 5 stars A thinking woman's mystery
Massey serves up an intelligent mystery that zigs and zags, keeping the reader on her/his toes. Interwoven in the story is the experience of a Japanese/American heroine who faces... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2001 by Beth A. Emmerling
5.0 out of 5 stars Until the End
I am a great reader of mysteries, I feel they give me a chance to use my imagination to see the sights, smell the smells, and feel the emotions. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2001 by C. C. Lee
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but Lacking
I am an expat living in Tokyo, and I picked this book up with a natural interest. It is not very often that you have a good book based on the city written in the language that you... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by A. KIM
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