Most helpful critical review
It had to happen sooner or later
on March 24, 2003
Even the best authors write at least one book that's not quite up to their usually excellent standard. Let me start with stating, that i am a devoted fan of Massey's work, and her heroine Rei Shimura. The next installment in the series chronicling Rei's mis-/adventures as a struggling antiques dealer and reluctant sleuth is always an eagerly awaited pleasure for me. That said i must confess i was a bit disappionted by this, the latest volume. As has been stated by some of the other reviewers, what makes Masseys books such a treat isn't so much the cases themselves, as the fascinating glimpses she gives us of life in japan (as experienced by a westener) and japanese culture in general. Since The Samurai's Daughter for a large part plays in San Francisco i had already resigned myself to my 'nippon fix' being somewhat diluted, but what was offered was even less than i had feared. Don't get me wrong, it's great to find out a bit more about the Shimura family and Rei's pre japan life,
but i'm afraid it isn't interesting enough to occupy half a book with i'm afraid. Still this would be forgiveable, would it serve as set up for Rei's return to japan, and were the crime investigated truly engrossing, but unfortunately neither is the case. The end of the story sees Rei back where she started from, unlikely to return to her home of choice before the end of the next book, and the 'case', never Masseys strong suit, is i'm afraid an utter, incoherent mess, that completely failed to grip me (it's finally 'solved', if you will call it that, not so much through logical deduction, but rather a chain of lucky coincidences and the elimination of all other possible suspects aka authorial handwaving). Massey can do, and in the past has done, _much_ better. About Rei's 'great epiphany', that belonging to a particular nationality/race doesn't automatically make you a virtous, better human being, and that the japanese people, like everybody else, are made up of individuals, both good and bad, the less said the better. In conclusion it's a book for Massey's fans(and i will definitely buy the next one, and the one after that, and...), but newcomers should start with her earlier works, and, if Rei is their kind of sleuth, buy this volume once it comes out in paperback.