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The Salaryman's Wife (Rei Shimura Series #1)

The Salaryman's Wife (Rei Shimura Series #1)

3.6 11
by Sujata Massey

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Jonnie Jacobs
A terrific debut, crafted with surprising twists and turns, and steeped in the flavor of contemporary Japan.
Barbara D'Amato
This book is a magic carpet to the Japanese Alps, and serves up murder as well. Great reading!
Janet Evanonich
Sujata Massey blasts her way into fiction with The Salaryman's Wife, a cross-cultural mystery of manners with a decidedly sexy edge.
Laura John Rowland
A witty, perceptive take on how contemporary society clashed with traditional culture in modern Japan.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Rei Shimura Series , #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.74(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.15(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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. A crowded train undergoing a nerve gas attack? That could mean true death instead of just an emotional one. I tried to be mature about it. After all, I'd almost convinced myself that what had been pressing against me since we'd left Nagano was somebody's suitcase handle.

He'd crept up behind me when a crush of skiers boarded and the tiny space I'd staked out had grown so tight I couldn't even move my arms. Packed sushi-zume—as tightly as rice balls in a box lunch—I began worrying about what might come next. I'd heard stories about the chemistry whiz who used a fluid to melt holes in clothing, and the gum-chewer who left a big wad in your hair as a memento. More than one man was known to express his pleasure deeply in your coat pocket. But those were cretins I'd assumed were native to the Tokyo subways and not long distance trains climbing the Japanese Alps.

The hand, which had been almost imperceptible at first, was becoming audacious. Exploring with my heel, I encountered a shin, slid my foot along its length and stomped the ankle underneath. A foot kicked back and a woman snapped at me to be more careful—for goodness sake didn't I know it was an overcrowded train? I ground out an apology. The hand stayed.

It was dark outside, turning the train door's glass into a mirror. I saw myself as I always appear: small, Japanese-American, and with the kind of cropped haircut that's perfect in San Francisco but a little too boyish for Japanese taste. I wished I'd had time tochange into a butch pair of jeans instead of the skirt that had provided easy access for someone. I concentrated on the reflections of the three men closest to me: a young white-collar guy buried in a sports tabloid, an ancient grandpa, and a working-class tough wearing a sweatshirt with the improbable slogan "Milk Pie Club." The latter two appeared to be sleeping, but you never knew for sure. I remembered the last weapon I possessed.

"Hentai! Te o dokcte yo!" I said it first in Japanese and then in English—pervert, get your bands off me.

I felt the hand hesitate, then depart.

"It's the guy in black! Oh, no, you aren't getting away!"

I craned my head to see a tall, stout American woman beating the thuggish-looking man's shoulders with her umbrella.

"I have done nothing! Stop it, please!" The man's apology in Japanese did no good with his foreign attacker. The formerly drowsy passengers were tittering.

"That's enough! If you keep hitting him, you could be arrested," I warned the woman as the man twisted away from us.

"I didn't have to understand what you were saying to know what was going on," the woman grumbled as she settled into a suddenly-vacated seat. "Men are bastards. All of 'em. There oughtta be a law."

As I shifted nearer, I checked her out. This was no gray-haired feminist in a patchwork jacket and peasant trousers, the kind of soul who peered enthusiastically at Japan from wire-rimmed glasses. My rescuer wore a leopard-print parka and purple Reebok sneakers. Her hair was a shade of apricot I'd never seen before.

"So, where'd you learn your good English?" she asked.

"California." That usually brought a blush to Caucasian faces, but not this one.

"You don't look it."

I let that pass. Once I would have said something, but after three years in Asia I had become too polite. Too Japanese.

"Are you going to Shiroyama?" she continued, stumbling a bit with her pronunciation.

I nodded. I was going to the 200-year-old castle town in search of antique folk art and a break from the unrelenting grayness of my life in North Tokyo. I had planned carefully, following my boss's recommendation to stay at a minshuku, or family-run inn. The one I'd chosen was particularly famous for its country cooking and decor. Decamping to snowy mountains while all of Japan was celebrating New Year's—the biggest party week of the year—was pretty eccentric. In fact, I couldn't believe anyone else would want to do it.

The woman was fairly clueless about rural Japan, so I explained a little about what she should expect at a Japanese inn. By the time we were talking mineral baths, I realized she was booked into the same place, and we might as well share a taxi. My solo trip had morphed into something else. I thought ruefully about die Japanese belief that there arc no coincidences, that everything is part of a great cosmic plan. Considering how things turned out, I am inclined to agree.

My first view of Shiroyama was a jumble of oldfashioned shops and houses, tiled roofs loaded down with snow, and windows glowing with welcoming golden light. An old woman in a kimono bustled past, holding a parasol aloft to keep off the lightly falling flakes. I would have lingered had I not been playing bellhop for my new companion, rushing to flag down a cab before it made it to the taxi stand.

"Don't mind the Vuitton. It's fake from Hong Kong," she boasted as I lifted her pair of heavy cases into the trunk. "I didn't catch your name, young lady.

"Rei Shimura," I said slowly, as I always did growing up in the United States.

"Is that Rae with an e, or Ray with a y?"

"Neither. It's a Japanese name that rhymes with the American ones."

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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The Salaryman's Wife (Rei Shimura Series #1) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I am a Japanese girl living in America, I enjoyed reading Rei's first adventure in Japan a lot. Though there are some misunderstanding about Japanese culture in the book, (for example, it is not a letter meaning death that appears on the lightshades at Japanese funerals, etc.) I think the author has done a great job incorporating Japanese culture into the plot of a mystery. Rei Shimura, 27-year-old Japanese-American girl from SF, came across a mysterious death of a woman from Tokyo in a fictious old castle town called Shiroyama. She had met Hugh the night before, a handsome single lawyer from Scotland, and had been instantly in love with him. However, he became the suspect of the murder because he seemed to have been involved with the dead woman, too. And the police treated Rei as suspect as well after finding out that she was with Hugh in his room the night before the woman's death. Did Hugh really killed the woman? Can Rei prove her innocence and how? I liked Rei for all the faults she has and I'm glad that I found this exciting series of Rei Shimura's adventures as a amateur detective. (Zen Attitude, The Flower Master, The Floating Girl follow featuring Rei Shimura.) Highly recommended to all the mystery lovers and also to people who are interested in modern Japan.
otterly More than 1 year ago
If you like to read books with a foreign setting, this might be for you. The main character takes a New Year's Eve vacation, and ends up finding a dead woman--someone she just met. There are twists and turns. A book group might like to read this. I might read another book by this author.
Maximillian More than 1 year ago
This book appealed to me for the same reasons given by the other reviewers. I also enjoyed the style of the author. She gets to the point quickly, but fills in the details too; sometimes a few lines after she gives you her main idea. I did also enjoy the bits of information about Japanese culture; something I know almost nothing about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. Not many books leave a lasting impression on me but this one did. I've already ordered the second book and am anticipating its arrival!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At her age should have some street smarts regardless country the exotic backgroubd kept my interest but begin to wonder how accurate it is travel folder? As happy families all alike only the dysfuntioal make a story anymore? Borrow not buy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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