Half-American, half-Japanese, Rei Shimura is finally beginning to feel like Tokyo is home. Now a writer on art and antiques at the Gaijin Times, a comic-style magazine aimed at affluent young readers, Rei's latest assignment is a piece on the history of comic book art. During a weekend of research and relaxation at her boyfriend Takeo's beachside house, Rei stumbles upon the perfect subject: an exquisite modern comic that reveals the disturbing social milieu of pre-World War II Japan.
Rei art story, evolves into something much darker. One of the comic's young creators is found dead -- a murder that soon takes the tenacious Rei deep into the heart of Japan's youth underground. Immersed in the investigation, she finds herself floating through strip clubs, animation shops, and coffeehouses to get the true story -- and save her own skin.
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Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany. She studied writing at Johns Hopkins University and worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before moving to Japan, whre she taught English and began writing mystery fiction. The Rei Shimura series starts with The Salaryman's Wife, which won the Agatha Award for best first novel of 1997, and continues with Zen Attitude, and Edgar and Anthony nominee, and The Flower Master. At present Sujata Massey lives with her family in Baltimore and travels to Japan to research future Rei Shimura novels.From Publishers Weekly:
Novelist and former Baltimore Evening Sun reporter Massey (The Salaryman's Wife) takes readers on a thoughtful tour of contemporary Japanese youth culture in this accomplished murder mystery. Rei Shimura is a Japanese-American antiques dealer who, looking to supplement her income, has begun writing a column for the Gaijin Times, Tokyo's English-language newspaper. When the paper's owner decides to transform the publication from a conventional news outlet to a comic book magazine, Shimura gets what is, for her, an unwanted assignment--to write an article on the history and culture of manga, or Japanese comic books. The newspaper asks Rika Fuchida, an ambitious student intern, to assist her, but Shimura prefers the assistance of her new boyfriend, Takeo Kayama. With his help, she discovers Mars Girl--a manga that follows the adventures of a superhero who, like Shimura, is bicultural (half-Martian, half-Japanese)--and the Showa Story, in which the superhero travels back in time, to 1930s Japan. Determined to keep her job at the newspaper, Shimura pursues Mars Girl's creator, Kunio Takahashi, in both the hip and the less-than-savory sides of Tokyo. Things begin to get shady, however, when Shimura is injured falling down a flight of stairs (was she pushed?) and when one of Takahashi's friends turns up dead, dressed as Mars Girl, in a river. Shimura begins to suspect that she is being followed, not only by her "assistant," the ambitious intern, but also by gangsters. Deftly sketching everyday life in parts of Tokyo rarely seen by tourists, Massey tells a series of overlapping stories about identity, the popular media and the hilarious frenzy of contemporary comic book culture. Agents, Ellen Geiger and Dave Barbor at Curtis Brown. (May)
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