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

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

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

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

by Sujata Massey

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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Winner of the Agatha Award.

"Sujata Massey blasts her way into fiction with The Salaryman's Wife, a cross-cultural mystery of manners with a decidedly sexy edge."— Janet Evanonich

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.) She's determined to make it on her own. 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 attempts to piece together a strange, ever-changing puzzle—one that is built on lies and held together by years of sex and deception.

The first installment in the Rei Shimura series, The Salaryman's Wife is a riveting tale of death, love, and sex, told in a unique cross-cultural voice. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061044434
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 04/05/2000
Series: Rei Shimura Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 455,653
Product dimensions: 6.74(w) x 4.10(h) x 1.15(d)

About 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.

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."

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