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.
In Massey's winning ninth crime novel (after 2005's The Typhoon Lover), brassy Rei Shimura, now working for an elite U.S. spy agency, infiltrates a Tokyo department store whose profits are suspiciously inflated, though she wonders why this is a matter of American state security. Since it's her first covert mission, Rei has a lot to learn, including how to lie convincingly and how to be cautiously distrustful. When she overhears the store's head make a death threat, Rei's boss, Michael Hendricks, gets concerned and flies to Japan to give her backup. This causes as many problems as it solves, because Michael and Rei are forced to admit to themselves that they're falling for each other. (The hilarious scene in which they share their first kiss could easily have come across as trite or predictable in lesser hands.) Readers will find Rei's cross-cultural escapades as engrossing as the department store's shenanigans. The minor characters a clerk with a bitchy attitude, an anxious banker from New Jersey are as well developed as the delightful heroine. 3-city author tour.