All She Was Worthby Miyuki Miyabe
Here is a deftly written thriller that is also a "deep and moody" (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW) journey through the dark side of Japan's consumer-crazed society. Ordinary people plunge into insurmountable personal debt and fall prey to dangerous webs of underground creditors-so dangerous, in fact, that murder may be the only way out. A beautiful young woman vanishes
Here is a deftly written thriller that is also a "deep and moody" (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW) journey through the dark side of Japan's consumer-crazed society. Ordinary people plunge into insurmountable personal debt and fall prey to dangerous webs of underground creditors-so dangerous, in fact, that murder may be the only way out. A beautiful young woman vanishes, and the detective quickly finds she is not whom she claims to be. Is she a victim, a killer, or both? In a country that tracks its citizens at every turn, how can two women claim the same identity and then disappear without a trace?
Miyabe's first English translation was named Best Mystery of 1992 in Japan. Fans of Ross Macdonald and Julian Symons will have no trouble seeing why.
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All She Was Worth, by Miyuki Miyabe, is a surprisingly touching, yet harrowing page-turner. The author appeals to those who enjoy a good crime, murder-mystery story, while fulfilling her objectives of both entertaining and teaching the audience of some of Japan¿s serious social issues which in this case is a severe consumer-debt problem. The author does a fantastic job of fulfilling the entertainment objective. The characters are interesting, believable, and all fulfill their roles nicely. The book is so entertaining because it centers on a missing person, which will satisfy the crime lover¿s need, yet it also will appeal to those interested in learning a bit more about Japan¿s problems as a country. These problems are exposed by the author by having a lawyer give detailed explanations of how individuals in Japan are getting themselves into serious consumer-debt problems, and many readers will be able to relate to the social issues that are taking place. For those who like murder mysteries, and crime books, this is a great read. The extra bonus with this novel is you learn a little about Japanese culture, and a great deal about social issues in Japan, while getting your fix of entertainment in the crime area. The book moves really quickly in the beginning, but can seem to drag on a bit when exposing the consumer-debt problems. But for those who are interested in learning of these social issues, you will not be disappointed. I would give this book 4 starts out of 5 as it is surprisingly entertaining, and kept me up reading late at night wondering what was going to happen next. The book is just under three-hundred pages, making it a satisfying, and not too long of a novel. It is also important to note that this novel throws in a good deal of family issues along the way. This is done with the main character¿s struggle in being a single parent, while juggling a career at the same time. The sections of the book that deal with family issues are another portion of this novel that many of its readers will easily be able to relate to. Lastly, the novel introduces many colorful characters along the way, who each bring something special to the reading. It seems every character in this novel has a purpose, and the characters are interesting, and easy to remember. The author does a fantastic job of keeping the book the mystery it is intended to be, while educating the reader along the way. Having read several books of different cultures, this book by far was my favorite. Perhaps what was most refreshing about it was that for a translated novel, it read extremely smoothly and I never once had to back-track to figure out what was said or what was going on. I highly recommend this book, and it has made me want to seek out other novels this author has written. I believe this book will find it has a permanent home on my bookshelf now.
Having recently purchased the book for a college class on Japanese literature in translation, I was extremely surprised and pleased to find that this was the kind of book I would pick up on my own. Ms. Miyabe paints a rather intriguing picture of how hard it would be to disappear in the Japanese society. Which only makes the book that much more interesting that this 'Sekine Shoko' has managed to do just that: disappear. I won't reveal any plot spoilers or anything like that. I just wanted to leave my honest, if biased opinion. ^_^