Comics and college kids collide in Rei Shimura's fourth Tokyo mystery. Rei, a young American antiques dealer, thinks that writing a magazine column about the history of comic book art in Japan will boost her reputation. During a weekend at her boyfriend Takeo's beach house, she fixes on the perfect subject: an exquisite modern comic that reveals the disturbing social milieu of pre-World War II Japan. But when one of the comic's young creators is killed, Rei is drawn into Japan's youth underground. She floats through strip clubs, anime shops and coffeehouses, and ultimately, into the Pacific Ocean itself. But will she get the story before a killer drags her under?
An edgy, sexy mystery with a strong undercurrent of humor, this popular mystery novel was an Agatha Award Finalist and a BOOKLIST "Editor's Choice" selection in 2000.
BOOKLIST commented: "Rei is one of the most complex female protagonists around. She is Japanese, but she is also an American living in Japan, and this dichotomy gives her observations of Japanese culture a fascinating double edge." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY said: "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."
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.