After a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in 2011, Rei Shimura’s beloved mentor sends an SOS. Rei takes off from Tokyo to Japan to find Ishida-san, but the search is complicated by the disappearance of the elderly antique dealer’s apprentice, a troubled 19-year-old from a famous lacquer-making family. As Rei wades through wreckage and her husband Michael heads to Fukushima’s nuclear meltdown, the couple is caught up in a massive wave of danger they never anticipated.
The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Honshu, Japan, in 2011 kick-starts Agatha-winner Massey's moving 11th Rei Shimura mystery (after 2008's Shimura Trouble). Rei, a Japanese-American antiques dealer, and her new husband, Michael Hendricks, a former spy now working for a think tank on Pacific Rim issues, are playing mah-jongg at home in Hawaii when they hear the devastating news. Rei ascertains that her family escaped serious harm, but it takes a bit longer for her to discover the fate of her mentor in the antiquing business, Yasushi Ishida. To her relief, Yasushi survived as well, although he suffered a serious head injury. When Yashushi asks her to come to Japan to help him, she agrees immediately, to Michael's dismay. The book's most effective portions deal with Rei's role in the relief efforts. The whodunit takes a while to manifest itself and could have been dispensed with without loss. (BookLife)
Modern Historical Fiction
Although I didn't discover the Rei Shimura series until fairly recently, I quickly became a fan of Rei and have been eagerly awaiting the newest installment since I heard a new book was in the works. The story is set shortly after the devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 and is a bit of combination of mystery and modern historical fiction with a smidgen of romance. The story begins with Rei, her husband, and the Hawaiian Shimuras watching the news reports of the tsunami unfold. I felt that Rei's reactions were spot on, and her feelings of helplessness and desire to ensure her friends and family were safe rang true. Anyone who has found themselves in a similar scenario could easily identify with Rei in those early moments. Once she finally makes contact with her beloved mentor Mr. Ishida who mysteriously asks for her help before the phone line cuts out, Rei and her husband, Michael, find a way to get her into Japan. Ishida-san and his young assistant, Mayumi, were in Tohoku for an antiques auction when the tsunami hit and now Mayumi is missing. Rei joins a group of volunteers and finds her way to her mentor. Following Rei's reunion with Ishida-san, the two attempt to track down what happened to Mayumi. The story deals with not only their search for Mayumi but also draws in stories of those whose lives have been changed by the tsunami.
Fans of this series will enjoy being reacquainted with old characters, including Rei's family members in Japan and her former roomie Richard, and meeting the new ones who cross paths with Rei, such as the precocious Miki and Mr. Ishida's dog, the intrepid Hachiko. Another feature of the series that I always enjoy is learning about Japanese culture. In this story the art of lacquer is explored, as is the concept of "kizuna." The tone of this one is a little different given the fact it is set right after the tsunami. The care and thoughtful approach to this topic are evident throughout the book. The balance between fact and fiction is just right.
If you haven't discovered the Rei Shimura series yet, The Kizuna Coast is an excellent introduction to it. You'll no doubt want to go back read the rest of the books back-to-back-to-back like I did once you meet Rei!