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on March 16, 2004
Unlike other reviewers, I enjoyed Rei's experience of returning to America after living so long in Japan. We see Japan through her Americanized eyes and then we see San Francisco filtered through her Japanese experience.
I agree with other reviewers: This series is best read from beginning to end. But if you've been following Rei Shimura and have come to care about the heroine, this volume offers background into the heroine's life and how she has been formed into a unique individual -- someone who grew up in the US but lives comfortably in Japan.
The plot was a little far-fetched and there is some reliance on coincidence. Most readers will smell a rat as soon as they meet the character who turns out to be the villain, although the connection won't seem at all obvious. However, I didn't mind and didn't question the plot or the motive until I put the book down, after a long and satisfying read.
And Rei's alliance with Hugh should lead to more adventures. As others have noted, the author is at
her best when she's writing about Japan. However, beginning with The Bride's Kimono, I suspect the author wants to write more about the US. And I'll look forward to the next volume in the series, no matter where it takes place.
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on December 10, 2003
I just finished this latest addition to Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura mystery series. I thought it rivaled her other novels, and even bettered a few of them.
A change of setting was a new twist Massey gave the reader in this book, splitting Rei's time between her hometown of San Francisco, and her beloved, adopted home in Tokyo. I thought this split helped character development - the reader got to know Rei and her background even more than in previous novels. Her love life has finally stablized with on-again, off-again beau, Scottish man Hugh Glendinning.
While Rei is visiting her parents in SF, she is working on a family history document. Hugh is a central character as he navigates his way through a class action lawsuit against former WWII slave laborers. As her involment in both projects grow, Rei comes to understand her own roots even more fully.
If you've never read one of Massey's books before, this will be a treat (and go grab the others, too!). If you are looking for guns, violence, and hard language, look elsewhere. Massey's lack of these things makes her novels a haven for me! If you have enjoyed her novels before, this one, I believe, will not be a disappointment.
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on September 4, 2003
This latest in the delightful Rei Shimura series finds our intrepid Japanese-American once again up to her delicate neck in mystery and mayhem--with a bit of intrigue and a lot of love interest thrown in.
Stuck with her parents in their San Francisco homestead, Rei is in turn pleased to be spoiled, and chafing under the bit to get back to her privacy in Japan. But she has a strange house guest, a native Japanese student, to contend with--as well as the ardent courtship of her long-time boyfriend, the sexy Scots lawyer Hugh Glendinning.
While contending with the usual East-West contradictions of her everyday life, Rei is contenting herself with researching and writing her family's history. But she uncovers more than she bargained for when it turns out that her grandfather actually tutored Emperor Hirohito--and may have been part of a right-wing Japanese political group that fostered the ultimate events of World War II. Now Rei has to face the Japan of the War, and contrast it with the modern-day Japan, her much-beloved adopted country--and the country of her father.
Add to that the top-secret case that Hugh is working on, which concerns reparations for Japanese war crimes, and one gets an idea of Rei's state of mind. For the first time, she becomes distant from her father and her family as she searches her soul for who she really is.
The answer is there, and always has been, for the enchanted reader to see--and when Rei ultimately finds herself, there is a wonderful treat in store for her and for us.
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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.
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on March 9, 2003
The joy I get out of reading this author's series of mysteries is mainly from the exotic nature of the Japanese culture and the California-native Rei's interactions within it. This book (and the last one) take place mostly in the US. So my joy is muted. I do get pleasure out of learning a lot more about the main character's father and mother and of some of her past life (before living in Japan). As I *am* a San Francisco Bay Area native, the local SF scenes and characters didn't really ring true for me. I don't think the author captured us all that well. It's always more interesting to encounter the alien than the familiar for me as a reader (so maybe I am bit biased? Blase?).
I hope the next book (I surely hope there's one or two more) will again take place in the unfamiliar territory (to me) of Japan. I have always enjoyed the comedic aspects of the interactions of a foreigner who looks like native yet still is "gaijin" no matter how hard she tries to fit into the Japanese culture.
Would she have been more Japanese if she had a Japanese mother than a Japanese Father? So my girlfriend asks me while I type.
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on March 6, 2003
On the whole, Rei Shimura should be walking on air right now. Rei and her the love of her life, lawyer Hugh Glendinning, have finally worked past all their issues and differences, and it looks as if their relationship is (finally) progressing along the right lines (Hugh's even been given a posting by his firm to work in Japan for a while). True, Rei's father seems a little less overjoyed by all this. Especially when it comes to light that Hugh has become involved in a class action suit on behalf of those who had been forced into slave labour for Japanese companies during World War II. Rei herself is torn between wanting to see justice done and being terribly afraid at what secret wounds would be reopened if this case ever came to trial. Rei is also desperately afraid that Hugh may be in over his head, a feeling that grows once she meets the other lawyers involved in the case. And when one of Hugh's clients is murdered and another war victim is savagely beaten, Rei realises that she will have to do some hard investigating of her own in order to discover who is trying to keep the survivors silent as well as protect Hugh's interests...
The Rei Shimura mysteries have always been a favourite of mine. They're clever, absorbing and really well done. I especially enjoy the little bits of information that Sujata Massey peppers the book with on the Japanese culture, manners and history. And after sighing with relief at the end of the previous Rei Shimura installment ("The Bride's Kimono") where Rei and Hugh finally reunited, I was glad that things didn't fall apart for them in this installment. Though I am a little saddened to discover that Rei and Hugh will be living in the US for a while. One of the joys about this series is that it is set in Japan. Sujata Massey has to send Rei and Hugh back to Japan soon! But to get back to "The Samurai's Daughter," I found it to be a truly engrossing and intriguing read. I read it in one go -- it was so very, very readable. And while some aspects were easy to guess, other aspects of the mystery kept me guessing for quite a while. Poignant, suspenseful and humourous in turns, "The Samurai's Daughter" is a read not to be missed.
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on April 2, 2003
As much as I love the Rei Shimura books, this one was a letdown...Rei takes on the issue of WWII slave labor and reparations to the victims, which is interesting because it's not something a lot of western readers may be familiar with. However, the book would benefit from a sharper editor; quite a few key plot points are first mentioned as if the reader had already known about them (like Rosa's name, the identity of Morita, "my father told me about the gold"). I spent a lot of time flipping back, trying to figure if I missed something.
If you've never read a Rei Shimura book before, don't start with this one because you won't see how great a storyteller Sujata Massey can be. If you're already into the series, this one is reasonably entertaining but not as insightful into daily Japanese life as they normally are.
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on January 12, 2004
I started reading this book only because my husband had it. I am a Japanese woman living in the US, and I found the author, Sujata Massey adequately depicting modern Japanese culture and psyche in this book. I thought the book was very entertaining as well, but the motive of the killing in this case was too bizarre for my taste. This is the least favorite of my husband among her other books. I have read latest two books of the series and I wish I had read in order. Still, it is easy to follow the big picture of what is going on with the main character, Rei's life.
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on July 1, 2003
I feel the same way about this series that many reviewers seem to: a lot of what makes these books interesting is their glimpses into modern-day life in Japan. So, there is a significant loss when instead a novel (this one) takes place primarily in San Francisco. However, the mystery was still intriguing and I did learn interesting tidbits about Japanese culture through this book. I just hope the setting returns to Japan & stays there!
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on March 22, 2003
I love Massey's stories which usually take place in an idealized Japan. I was not as enchanted with the portions of this book that took place in America. The ending was not what I was hoping for and left me thinking that there should be more.
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