The Rei Shimura series is a series of mystery and suspense novels written by the Agatha Award winning American author of historical fiction and international mystery, named Sujata Massey. This series is comprised of a total of 11 mystery novels, which were released between the years 1997 and 2014. All the books in this series revolve around the life of the fictional character known as Rei Shimura. Rei is depicted as a Japanese-American woman who wishes to become a dealer of antique items and set up her own antiques shop in Tokyo, Japan. But, due to the mysterious events happening around her throughout the series, she is intrigued to take up the role of an amateur sleuth. Later on, Rei uses her identity as an antiques expert to hide her other identity as a sleuth in order to solve the mysteries with the help of her own independent investigation. The character of Rei Shimura makes her debut in the first book of the series titled ‘The Salaryman’s Wife’. In this book, she goes on to solve the mystery related to the murder of a woman during a sightseeing trip.
Rei’s birth takes place in San Francisco, California, and she spends most of her growing years in The United States. She was raised by her American mother and Japanese father before she decides to migrate to Tokyo. In Japan, Rei tries her hand at various jobs, beginning from working as a columnist for the daily newspaper Gaijin Times and finally settling down as an antiques dealer. The appearance of Rei Shimura has been described by author Sujata Massey as more Japanese instead of Caucasian. Whenever she is in the U.S., she is often mistaken by others to be of a complete Japanese ancestry. While living in Japan, Rei is often treated as a foreigner in spite of the fact that she can speak the Japanese language fluently. However, she does face difficulty in the writing part of the language. The mother of Rei is described as a member of the Howard family, which is very influential in the United States. In one of the later books, author Sujata Massey has described that only one member from the Howard family tries to reach to Rei when she shifts to Washington, D.C., and that is Kendall Howard. Rei’s family from her father’s side lives in Japan. Among them, Rei is very closely related to her aunt named Norie and her cousin named Tom Shimura.
The debut novel in the Rei Shimura series written by author Sujata Massey is titled as “The Salaryman’s Wife”. It was released by the HarperTorch publishers in the year 1997. At the beginning of this book, Rei is introduced as a 27 year old English teacher of the Japanese-American origin. She is described as living in one of the seediest neighborhoods of Tokyo, Japan. Rei does not earn much from her job as a teacher and somehow manages to take care of her needs. But, in spite of that, she does not show the willingness to go to return to her home in California even if someone offers her a free ticket. However, she is finally persuaded by her parents to move back to her hometown. But soon, her independence gets threatened when she gets involved in a murder case during a getaway into an old castle town. The victim, who was the beautiful wife of a powerful businessman, is first discovered by Rei in the snow and dead. Post this discovery, Rei decides to take charge and begins searching for clues, howsoever minute, in order to get to the bottom of the case and find the murderer. At first, she poses as a bar girl and crashes into a funeral. In the process, she gets pursued by the paparazzi and the police alike. Rei becomes successful in piecing together an ever-changing and strange puzzle. Later, she goes on to unravel this disgusting puzzle which is built on the basis of lies and held for so long by years of deception and sexual exploitation. Rei finally manages to find out the killer and hunts him down in order to make him pay for his crime. With the case solved, Rei feels satisfied that she was able to serve the justice with the help of her sleuthing abilities. The book went on to be nominated for several prestigious awards, including the Barry Award, the Macavity Award, the Agatha Award, and the Anthony Award. Its success knew no bounds as a numerous fans and readers as well as the critics appreciated the story and praised author Massey for her dedicated efforts.
One of the other books published initially in the mystery series is titled as ‘The Flower Master’. This book was released by the Harper publications in the year 1999. At the start of this book, Rei, who is depicted by author Massey to be in her twenties, is shown as trying to adjust and find her place in the Tokyo society. But, she is unable to find any success. Also, her love life seems to be falling apart and she could not do anything to save it. To add to her problems, all her efforts in saving her new business in Tokyo go in vain. When her aunt insists her to enroll herself in an Ikebana course, Rei agrees. The course is related to the popular Japanese art of arranging flowers and Rei seems to enjoy doing it. But, she does not realize that the class is going to be very difficult for her. Soon, Rei comes to know that her instructor has been murdered. Once again, she decides to put her sleuthing abilities to use and track down the murderer. But before she could do anything, her home becomes the target of a post murder drama. Rei and her aunt get battered by press attention, police questioning, and some mysterious warnings.
As her family’s closets get rattled by skeletons, Rei is required to brace herself for a dangerous family secret. In the end, it appears that Rei is in the middle of the excitement that seemed to have been missing from her life. The search for the reality in the murder case takes Rei through the twisting new levels of intrigue, murder, and romance. Now, everything lies on her shoulders as she is required to clear the name of her family as well as save herself from a deadly enemy, whose agenda does not seem clear. This novel proved to be a scintillating mystery with a fresh, unique, and a cutting edge touch to it. Just like the earlier novels of the series, this one too became very much successful. It was also nominated for prestigious awards like the Agatha Award and the Macavity Award in the category of the Best Mystery novel. Author Sujata Massey was once again praised for her efforts in writing down an intriguing mystery novel.
An American author who’s been writing for a number of years now, Sujata Massey originally hailed from Sussex in the United Kingdom having been born in 1964 on the fourth of March, before moving across to America at the young age five, where she grew up to become a highly successful author of great repute. With a talent for building both suspense and intrigue, she’s able to finely craft a well structured narrative alongside strong protagonists who have highly progressive narrative arcs over the series run. Attending and then graduating Johns Hopkins University in 1986, she then went on to write for the Baltimore Evening Sun, where she developed her love and passion for the written word, whilst honing and refining her craft. Building up a worldwide audience, she has managed to capture the imaginations of readers from all across the globe, reaching the top of the best-seller lists on a number of different occasions. With series such as her ‘The Daughters of Bengal’ franchise, which only consists of the one title ‘The Sleeping Dictionary’ so far, she’s already created a legacy that is highly regarded in the industry. As more books are planned in this series, along with her ongoing and highly sought after Rei Shinura line of books, she has a career that’s grown from strength-to-strength.
With the Rei Shimura series she has totaled eleven books so far and counting, as more are expected to follow very shortly, with further cases for the intrepid amateur sleuth to investigate. The lead protagonist herself is extremely down-to-earth yet headstrong, giving the readers someone who is easy to relate to and become invested in over time. In regards to Sujata Massey herself, this particular series is a perfect example of what it is that she does best as an author, with many of her trademarked themes, such setting itself in both Japan and Washington D.C., clearly evident here throughout. As more are expected to follow in this ever popular and highly influential line of novels, this series shows no signs of stopping any time soon, as it continues on into the foreseeable future.
The Salaryman’s Wife
Originally published in 1997, this was to be the first book in the Rei Shimura series that worked as an introduction to the character, as it provided backstory for the readers. Setting both the style and the tone of the world that she was set to inhabit for the subsequent novels, it works in setting up the premise quickly and concisely, before giving her her first adventure. With its clear sense of ambiance as well, Massey provides an extremely clear and articulate idea of what to expect almost immediately, as she is both succinct and to the point.
Teaching English in Tokyo, Rei Shimura is twenty-seven years of age living in one of the more seedier areas that the city has to offer, as she hopes to break away from it all. She doesn’t plan to head back to her home in California either, despite her not making much money, as she’s fiercely independent and remains stubborn sticking to her position there. Still she feels at somewhat of an impasse in life though, as she wants to move upwards and on-wards somehow and make more of herself, she just isn’t sure quite how at the moment. That’s when an opportunity presents itself to her, but it’s not exactly the one she was hoping for, as she finds someone murdered lying face down in the snow. Finding that it’s down to her to discover who killed this beautiful wife of a wealthy businessman, she quickly realizes that she doesn’t have much time to find the culprit. With her investigating taking her through a series of hair-raising exploits, as she moves from one crazy situation to the next, she must keep her wits about her if she wants to remain ahead of the game. Will she find the culprit in time? Can she bring them to justice before they strike again? What exactly happened to the salaryman’s wife?
Originally published in 1998 through the Harper Perennial publishing house, as opposed to HarperTorch from before, this was to be the direct follow up to the previous novel. Essentially diving straight into the action this time, it doesn’t waste any time in getting to the heart of the story, as the character of Rei Shimura has already been well established in the minds of the readers now. Capturing the essence of what came before as well, it also manages to build upon the narrative and ambiance of the previous novel, developing it even further giving it an even greater level of depth.
Now successfully running an antiques business whilst living with her Scottish lawyer boyfriend, Rei Shimura is living the life she’s always dreamed of. That’s when she finds herself overpaying for a beautiful chest of drawers and the conman who sold them to her is subsequently found dead. It is then up to her to investigate his death, as she finds herself embroiled in yet another case, this time it being one that threatens her now idyllic life. Will she be able to find the real culprit in time? Where will they strike next? Can she keep a Zen attitude?
The Rei Shimura Series
Winning a number of different awards such as the Agatha Award for the best debut novel when ‘The Salaryman’s Wife’ first came out, along with the Barry and Macavity Awards for Best First Mystery novel and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original, it’s easy to see why she was so quick to rise in status as a writer. The character of Rei Shimura herself has become iconic in the minds of her audience over the many successful years, with her being a strong archetype to follow throughout her investigations. Starting out in 1997 all the way up to 2014, this character has a lot of life in her yet, as there are plenty more stories available on the horizon, something which Sujata Massey is clearly aware of, as she plans to carry on writing her novels for her ever eager fans and followers of the now very much beloved character; Rei Shimura.Book Series In Order » Characters » Rei Shimura