BLACKPLUME

lover of written words

All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe

on June 9, 2011

I’ve read few books by Japanese authors before but I never tried Miyuki Miyabe works. In fact I never heard anything about her or her works until now. I may never have discover All She Was Worth if not for gathering books whodunit reading challenge. Which I’m glad I did because this book delivers so well.

All She Was Worth is originally published under the Japanese title “Kasha” (火車) in 1992 and translated to English in 1996. It tells the story of Shunsuke Honma a police detective who tried to solve a case of a missing person. Honma is currently on leave due to injury when Jun, his distant cousin from his wife’s side approached him to find Shoko Sekine. Shoko is Jun’s fiance who disappeared after applying for a credit card. It turns out that Shoko had lived too extravagantly years ago, running up huge credit card debts and eventually having to declare personal bankruptcy. So when Jun confronted her about it she just left. As Honma tries solve the mystery of Shoko’s disappearance we realized that this is more than just a case of missing person. Pretty early on in the investigation, Honma realizes why Shoko never told Jun she was a bankrupt, and it is because she honestly didn’t know. It turns out that Shoko Sekine (Jun’s Fiance) is not the real Shoko Sekine. Which leads Honma to investigate more the mystery of stolen identity, escape and murder.

This book offers an interesting glimpse of Japan. The authors description of Japanese society is intriguing and refreshing. I’ve learned a lot about Japanese culture that I wasn’t previously aware of. Miyabe spends a lot of time describing how the Japanese credit lending system works. She also shows the elaborate methods that Japan uses to control personal identity with the family registers and the different types of red tape in Japan like the loan sharks. The idea of loan sharks and yakuza is still intriguing to me. I’ve seen most of it from Asian movies and TV series but I never really understood deeply how they work until I read this book.

While I was drawn into the mystery and to the Japanese culture, I was also impressed with the sharp social commentary of the danger of materialism and credit system. On how people get caught up in debt and pull themselves deeper in grave of financial liabilities. This book was written two decades ago but sad to say this consumer problem still exist today. We are still caught up in a credit craze where some of us end up buried in debt.

All She Was Worth is a gripping book that offers a different twist to detective mystery novel. It mostly focused on finding out how the crime was achieved and not why or by whom. This is a worth read that offers an interesting portrayal of Japan. I definitely want to read more of Miyabe’s work in the future.

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8 responses to “All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe

  1. Iphigene says:

    The beauty of participating in reading challenges is they open you up to a whole genre/world of books one wouldn’t dare read. I’m glad that our challenge was able to do that for you.

    This book has me sold. I’m bias towards Japanese literature and add some mystery element to it and I’m just sold. One of these days when my TBR pile thins out I will revisit every book reviewed in this challenge and get myself a copy of it. 🙂

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    • blackplume says:

      your whodunit reading challenge is the first reading challenge I tried and I’m glad I did coz it really widened my reading choices. I rarely read noir novels but now I appreciate the genre more. Thanks for organizing the challenge.

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  2. iz says:

    I never heard this book, not my genre obviously. but your review makes this book sound interesting. I’ll try to check this when I can handle reading thriller/mystery.

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    • blackplume says:

      you should try this. I think you’ll like the Asian feel of the book. You’ll definitely learn about Japanese culture though it’s not the bright side but still nice to experience it from this book. And don’t worry it’s not too gruesome. I think you can handle this one.

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  3. I can deeply relate with credit card bills, consumerism, and drowning in debt. Hahaha. Similar to what Mary said, I am glad that your participation in the reading challenge has led you to so many more choices when it comes to titles/authors. And this looks like a quick read indeed. =)

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    • blackplume says:

      you’re not the only one, sometimes I’m also a victim of consumerism =D but as long as we are not burying ourselves in debt we’ll manage. It’s all about management! cash management! 😀 haha

      Like

  4. […] Other reviews appear in Complete Review, Petrona, and Black Plume. […]

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