Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Review: "The Kizuna Coast" by Sujata Massey

I've been a big fan of Sujata Massey's series of mysteries featuring danger-prone antiques dealer Rei Shimura for quite some time now. In 2008, when I read the 10th book in the series, Shimura Trouble, it certainly sounded as if Massey was finished spinning stories about her heroine, and I was rather upset, so when I found out that Rei had returned to the literary world, I was very excited to spend time with her and her compatriots once again.

When The Kizuna Coast opens, Rei and her new husband, Michael Hendricks, are settling into their lives in Hawaii. But newlywed bliss is short-lived once the couple learns that a powerful earthquake has rocked the northeast coast of Japan, followed by a devastating tsunami that left enormous death and destruction in its wake. Although Rei is relieved to find out that her family members living in Japan are all safe, when she receives a distressed phone call from her mentor and former boss, antiques dealer Mr. Ishida, who has been injured and displaced by the storm, she promises to go to Japan to help him.

Getting to Japan shortly after such a disaster proves challenging (not to mention upsetting to her husband), and once she arrives, in order to get to the city where Mr. Ishida is, she must offer her services as a disaster relief volunteer. But before she arrives in Tohoku, she visits Mr. Ishida's shop, only to discover it may have been burglarized. And when she finally is reunited with him, she finds that while he is concerned about his shop, he is most concerned about the whereabouts of his employee, Mayumi, who unexpectedly met him in Tohoku on the day of the tsunami, but seems to have disappeared.

At first, Rei doubts just how devoted of an employee Mayumi is, but then she starts to uncover more information about the tumultuous life this young girl led. And as she finds herself trying to help find out what happened to Mayumi, and get Mr. Ishida back to his shop, she is also overwhelmed by the destruction, both physical and emotional, that the tsunami caused. To top it off, her worries begin to grow about her husband as well, whose job sends him near the Fukushima nuclear reactor, which was damaged during the storm.

Reading The Kizuna Coast is like being reunited with old friends. Rei's character hasn't changed, although she has gotten a bit more mature at times, but her doggedness and her compassion remain the same. While this book dealt more with her experiences in the tsunami-stricken area, it was still good to see the return Mr. Ishida, as well as her close friend and former roommate, Richard; her aunt, Norie; and her doctor cousin, Tom. The plot is a little predictable but it doesn't matter, because Rei is a warm, fascinating character and Massey does such a great job making you care about her and those with whom Rei is dealing. And as always, there's even some fascinating information about Japanese antiques thrown in for good measure.

If you're a mystery fan, I'd definitely encourage you to pick up a book in Massey's Rei Shimura series. They're fun and compelling, and they've really taught me a great deal about Japanese culture I probably wouldn't have learned otherwise. Plus, you now have 11 books to read in the series, so hopefully if you get hooked, by the time you're done, Massey may write another!

No comments:

Post a Comment