Cover image for The samurai's daughter
The samurai's daughter
Massey, Sujata.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 304 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Antiques dealer Rei Shimura is in San Francisco visiting her parents and researching a personal project to trace the story of 100 years of Japanese decorative arts through her own family's history. But Rei's work is interrupted by the arrival of her long-distance boyfriend, lawyer Hugh Glendinning, who is involved in a class action lawsuit on behalf of people forced to engage in slave labor for Japanese companies during World War II.

Suddenly, when one of Hugh's clients is murdered, their two projects intertwine. Before long, Rei uncovers troubling facts about her own family's actions during the war. As she starts to unravel the truth and search for a killer, the notions of family ties and loyalty take on an entirely new meaning.

Sujata Massey, whom critics consistently praise for her ability to balance murder and mystery with captivating cultural lore, is back with another gripping and provocative tale sure to keep readers charmed from start to finish.

Author Notes

Sujata Massey was born in Sussex, England in 1964 and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1986.

She moved to Japan after marrying a Naval officer stationed there, taking a job as an English teacher.

Massey is the author of "The Salaryman's Wife," winner of the 1998 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and "Zen Attitude," mysteries set in contemporary Japan.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

After briefly veering off course with The Bride's Kimono (2001), Massey is squarely back on track with this sixth, and possibly best, entry in her series starring young Japanese American Rei Shimura. This time the action takes place both in San Francisco, where Rei's parents reside, and in Rei's home city of Tokyo. Deciding to take a brief sabbatical from her antiques business, Rei is researching Shimura family history, in particular, how the family lived before dramatic modernization in the 1960s. Rei's boyfriend, Scottish attorney Hugh Glendinning, is researching a lawsuit that also involves Japanese history: restitution for Asian women forced into prostitution by large Japanese companies during World War II. The couple's blissful time together is soon shattered when one of Hugh's clients is killed and another seriously wounded. To make matters worse, both Rei and Hugh's projects initiate several confrontations with Rei's Japanese father. Massey deftly weaves fascinating historical and cultural detail into a suspenseful plot. A cliffhanger ending leaves the door open for the series to chart more new territory. Jenny McLarin

Publisher's Weekly Review

All California-born Rei Shimura really wants is to lead her quiet life in Tokyo as an antiques dealer while learning more about her Japanese relatives, but Massey, of course, has other plans for her in this absorbing cross-cultural puzzle, the sixth in the series (after 2001's The Bride's Kimono). On her way home from Washington, D.C., Rei stops in San Francisco to spend Christmas with her parents and do some research on Japanese decorative objects, including some belonging to her family. Her Scottish boyfriend, lawyer Hugh Glendinning, is involved in a reparation case for victims who were used as slave labor by corporations during WWII. Holiday festivities take on an edge when the woman Hugh is in town to question is murdered, Rei uncovers some potentially disturbing information about her own family's role in the war and a young Japanese medical student boarding with the family disappears. All trails seem to lead to Tokyo, where Rei returns to her beloved apartment and her relatives hoping for resolution. She and Hugh, however, soon find themselves embroiled in some very nasty business leading to her deportation back to San Francisco. Massey poses some deeply resonating questions about guilt and responsibility, while Rei faces some universal truths about families, loyalty and dealing with the past no matter how unpleasant it may be. Hugh's Christmas proposal guarantees intriguing complications ahead. Agent, Ellen Geiger. (Mar. 7) FYI: Massey has won Agatha and Macavity awards. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her sixth appearance after The Bride's Kimono, Rei Shimura, a Japanese American antiques dealer and amateur sleuth, contends with Japanese nationalism and the problems it presents. Lawyer Hugh Glendinning, Rei's on-again, off-again lover, who finally convinces her to accept his marriage proposal, is working on a class-action suit on behalf of Asians who were used as slave laborers by Japanese companies during World War II. Meanwhile, Rei, preparing a Shimura family history, discovers that her great-grandfather not only tutored the young Emperor Hirohito in history and political theory but also wrote textbooks that could have presaged the attack on Pearl Harbor. When a potential plaintiff dies shortly after Hugh interviews her and another former slave laborer is attacked, Rei's sleuthing goes beyond the law, forcing her to put principle and family honor above personal shame in a turn of events that ultimately proves fortuitous. Though this is less light-hearted than earlier entries in Massey's award-winning series, the characters and details of Japanese culture and history are as appealing as ever, and fans will relish this while awaiting the next one. For all mystery collections.-Michele Leber, formerly with Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Samurai's Daughter Chapter One "Way too salty. I bet the chef used instant dashi powder." My judgment delivered, I laid down the chopsticks I'd used to spear a slippery cube of tofu from the unfortunate miso soup. The Asian-American waitress who'd served us passed by with a smile; apparently, she didn't understand Japanese. Well, this was San Francisco, packed full of people with faces that mirrored the world's races, but who often spoke only English. I guessed that I'd been saved. "But this soup is so tasty!" Toshiro Shimura, my father, raked a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. It was cut in a slightly shaggy style typical for a San Francisco psychiatrist -- but was distinctly odd for a Japanese-born, fifty-something man. "Rei-chan, you don't realize how hard it is to find pure Japanese ingredients here. Anyway, I hear that in Japan a lot of the cooks now use bonito powder." "Not real cooks. I grate bonito fish -- you know, the kind that's so hard that it feels like a piece of wood." I closed my eyes for a minute, feeling nostalgic for the petrified hunk of fish resting in a wooden box in my tiny kitchenette in North Tokyo. "It's worth the extra effort because then the soup tastes like it comes from the sea, not the convenience store. Now, Dad, where were we? The ten grave precepts of Buddhism. The ones your grandfather felt were so important to live by. I thought it was interesting that he had them on display." "Yes, they were recorded on a calligraphy scroll. I think it originally came from a monastery, but it hung in the office where he worked. Unfortunately, I don't know where it is now." "Do you recall, approximately, what it said?" "The precepts. You know them, don't you?" I rolled my eyes. "I know some of them, but not all. You didn't raise me Buddhist, remember?" "But you did take an Eastern religions class at Berkeley, yes?" "It was so long ago, Dad. just tell me. This is an oral history project, not a go-to-the-library project. I remember the first one: Don't kill. The next: Don't steal. And then the one about not lying -- " "Well, the precept against lying is actually the fourth, not the third, if I remember correctly. And in Japan, it's always been considered allowable to tell certain kinds of lies out of compassion, or because that lie serves a greater good." "Well, I'd agree with that," I said. "What was the third one, then?" "It's a precept against sex. Misusing sex, to be exact. That would cover situations such as rape and extramarital sex and -- " "Fine. Ah, what's number five?" I wasn't going to pursue the subtleties of the Buddhist rule governing sex -- that was just a little too up-close and personal. It had been two years since I'd last come home to San Francisco, and I wanted to leave on as good terms as I'd arrived. "That, if I remember correctly, is not to give or take drugs." "But priests drink sake all the time!" I pointed out. "Well, a person may take sake, but not in an amount to cause intoxication. My grandfather drank sake at supper, but only a single glass." "Would you say in general that laypeople's interpretations of these rules were looser than that of priests? I mean, Zen priests don't eat meat, but most people in Japan do. But how is it that people are allowed to eat meat, when the first precept is against killing?" "That's the rule I thought my vegetarian daughter would jump on." My father laughed. "The answer is that killing animals in self-defense, or to eat them, is permitted. It's just not right to kill them for sport." "Aha. So the basis of the rule is that an animal's life is valued only when it might be threatened with involvement in a game, say hunting or cockfighting," I said. "I'm not sure I agree with that. A death is a death, to me. But the rule certainly provides an interesting look at the Japanese mind." "The Buddhist mind," my father corrected me. "And as you know, Buddhism has its origins in India, and these laws are known to Buddhists in all nations. They are universal." I put my notebook aside for a break, because as much as I'd complained about the noodles, I was hungry for them. Actually, my feelings about food, my hometown, and my father were about as mixed up as the Buddhist rules. San Francisco was a typical tourist's dream, but in my mind it was a far second to Tokyo, my adopted home. Sure, the architecture in San Francisco was superb. But how could you enjoy it with all the rolling power blackouts? My parents' lifestyles had changed dramatically since California had faced its energy crisis -- their huge Victorian home was no longer lit up welcomingly in the evenings, not even now, at Christmas, when my mother once had routinely lit electric candles in all sixty windows. Tokyo didn't have such problems yet. And when there, it was easy for me to live simply, keeping my appreciation low to the ground, for things like the miniature Shinto shrines decorated with good luck fox statues, and the gracious rows of persimmon trees that line the ugly train tracks. And then, there were the Japanese people: the serene older generation moving through their own private dances of tai chi in the city's small parks, and the serious kindergarten students striding off to school wearing the kind of saucer-shaped hat and tidy uniform that hadn't changed since the 1920s. Not to mention my father's brother, Uncle Hiroshi, Aunt Norie, and my cousin Tom, who had become an important part of my life: so important that I planned to hightail it out of America before December 31 so I wouldn't miss New Year's Day with them ... The Samurai's Daughter . Copyright © by Sujata Massey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Samurai's Daughter by Sujata Massey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.