Girl in a Box (Rei Shimura Series #9)by Sujata Massey
Chronically underemployed Japanese-American sleuth Rei Shimura has taken a freelance gig with a Washington, D.C., alphabet agency that just might have ties to the CIA. Her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to go undercover as a clerk in a big Tokyo department store. It's a risky assignment, but it also gives Rei a store discount that allows her to freely
Chronically underemployed Japanese-American sleuth Rei Shimura has taken a freelance gig with a Washington, D.C., alphabet agency that just might have ties to the CIA. Her mission, should she choose to accept it, is to go undercover as a clerk in a big Tokyo department store. It's a risky assignment, but it also gives Rei a store discount that allows her to freely indulge her shopaholic tendencies.
Meanwhile, she's listening in on private conversations, crashing a conference, and fending off the unwanted advances of a couple of the store's executives who seem fascinated by her navel ring. When her cover is blown, Rei is in big trouble. Suddenly she's neck-deep in something very nasty, and it will take all her resourcefulness and unorthodox methods to survive a determined killer.
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Girl in a Box
By Sujata Massey
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Sujata Massey
All right reserved.
It's taken me almost a whole lifetime to become a decent liar.
I still endure stabs of good-girl guilt about it, even though lying has started a brilliant second career for me. I tell stories easily, rarely missing a step as I switch between English and Japanese. But I often wonder how I ever got to this crazy place in life, and where I will go next.
This day had been like all the others: a cool winter day in Monterey, with eight hours of classes at the Defense Language Institute, followed by my usual routine--a run out to Lover of Jesus Point in Pacific Grove. On days like this one, I felt that the Pacific was my constant friend. The water was the divider between me and Japan, between my old life and the new one. I'd have to cross it to go home.
It was odd that I felt this way, I thought as I ran along the dirt trail that paralleled the coast. California was my birthplace--San Francisco, to be exact, about two hours to the north, where my parents still lived. But Japan, where I'd lived so briefly but happily teaching English and selling antiques, always beckoned. The sensation had been stronger on this day than at any time so far in the two months I'd been studying at DLI, preparing for the kind of career in which you couldn't tell anyone what youdid, but that could get me back to Japan.
Good things are worth waiting for. I reminded myself of this truth as I ran, dressed for the winter in a long-sleeved black shirt really meant for bikers, and shorts, because I was too vain to wear sensible running tights. The wind on my legs didn't bother me; but on my way back, my knee started throbbing, and I thought about how much I wanted to replace the Nike Airs. In Monterey, there were a few places to buy running shoes, but nothing with the vast array of choices that a thirty-year-old with fading knees required. Of course, I could go up to San Francisco and easily get my favorite Asics style, but I wasn't in the mood. I'd been there at my family home for Christmas and New Year's, a time when I found myself fending off a combination of unhealthy foods and intrusive questions. As much as I loved my parents, I couldn't tell them about the Organization for Cultural Intelligence--OCI--the supersecret spy agency where I'd been hired as a special informant. I also couldn't explain why Hugh Glendinning, the man to whom I'd once been semi-engaged, had thrown me out of his life and Washington, D.C., apartment forever. But I wouldn't lie to my parents--that would be completely against my internal code. So I chose not to talk.
I actually liked the solitude of the Monterey coast, with its jagged rocks set against the turbulent, frigid Pacific: home of sardines, surfers, seals, and whales. Now I glanced toward the ocean, just to make sure I wasn't going to miss the sunset. Another great blessing of my posting in Monterey was my proximity to sunsets over the Pacific: performance art in vivid shades of red, orange, and purple, each sunset unique, like the kanji characters I was studying.
The sun took its leisurely time slipping down to the horizon, but as closely as I looked, I missed the green flash. I always seemed to miss it, even on the days when I'd been with Hugh, vacationing in beautiful parts of Japan and Thailand, and he took pains to point it out. I never saw the same things he did. Perhaps that had been the problem.
I shifted my gaze forward in the direction I was running, coming close to the Hopkins Marine Station, a research outpost connected to Stanford University. It had a beautiful rocky lookout point, but I'd never gone out because the station had a high wire fence and many signs saying "keep out." I was getting quite used to barriers, fences, and warning signs; usually, the Department of Defense identification card that I carried would get me in most places, but I had no business at the station.
Someone else did, though; a solitary sightseer, who was out on the rocks with field glasses close to his face.
I had noticed the same man half an hour earlier, because of what he was wearing: a business suit, which was a rarity in Monterey. I assumed he had to be some muckety-muck, though in my experience, marine scientists were more likely to wear jeans than gray flannel. Not that I could tell what the suit was made of: I was much too far away to make out those details, let alone the guy's face. I imagined for a minute that he was a spy, watching the coast for his contact to come in. He was probably an out-of-control tourist who just wanted to take pictures--though why he wasn't looking seaward rather than at the recreation trail didn't make sense.
It took me a couple of minutes to pass the rocky outcropping, then the rest of the fenced station, and then its exit. My knee was really bothering me, so I moved to the side and tightened my shoelaces--anything for more support. As I finished tying the knot, I turned around to look for bikers, always a liability on the trail, and I was stunned to see the man in the business suit running out of the marine station's parking lot. Now I knew that what I'd sensed earlier had been correct; the field glasses had been trained on me, not on any form of sea life.
I was fairly breathless because I'd already been running for about half an hour, but I mustered an extra bit of power and began running toward the American Tin Cannery Outlets. The first place I saw was a Reebok outlet, but I ran on . . .
Excerpted from Girl in a Box by Sujata Massey Copyright © 2006 by Sujata Massey. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Sujata Massey was a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun and spent several years in Japan teaching English and studying Japanese. She is the author of The Salaryman's Wife, Zen Attitude, The Flower Master, The Floating Girl, The Bride's Kimono, The Samurai's Daughter, The Pearl Diver, and The Typhoon Lover. She lives in Minneapolis.
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Another insight into Japanese culture and this time Rei Shimura is undercover as a clerk in one of Tokyo's premier department stores. Read the book and google the fashion designers at the same time for a visual treat. As a US government operative Rei has every reason to write off that cream colored wool Dior pant coat. Right! Fun reading which leaves me looking for the next book by this engaging author.
Underemployed Japanese-American sleuth Rei Shimura needs work so she accepts a job with some nebulous alphabet soup federal agency that is either a rival to the CIA and NSA or somehow connected to one of them. To know requires a top secret need to know clearance.---------------- Her superior Michael Hendricks assigns Rei to go undercover as a clerk at a Tokyo department store whose profits are mind-boggling to learn how that can be. Besides struggling with why the Feds would care, she likes the assignment as she can purchase the latest in fashion using her employee discount. However, besides sexual harassment, Rei overhears the store's top manager make a death threat, which she reports to Michael. Worried about her as he is attracted to her, Michael rushes to Tokyo to allegedly protect her back. As Rei bungles with hiding her identity until she is exposed as either a CIA or espionage agent, Michael arrives in time to share a kiss.--------------- This is a terrific espionage thriller as Rei changes occupations from sleuth to spy. Readers will enjoy her antics as she takes Tokyo like a typhoon hitting the city. Rei provides a strong anchor to the wild story line as an assimilated American struggling to adapt in her ancestors¿ homeland as a spy who to a degree is in the cold. The support cast is as good as they get whether it is store management harassing her naval, her agency boss kissing her, her store peers cursing her (and the customers) and the city as a whole. GIRL IN A BOX is a terrific fresh entry in this top rate Japanese American detective series.---------------- Harriet Klausner