Monday, July 30, 2007

'All She Was Worth'

by Miyuki Miyabe

Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum

Fiction/Mystery
First published, 1992 as 'Kasha'; English translation, 1996
Kodansha International, 290 p.

(Book #30 for 2007, Book #1 for the Summer Mystery Challenge, Book #3 for the Japan Challenge)
As a lone detective, recovering from a gunshot wound, limps through the backstreets of Tokyo and further afield in search of a woman on the run, he discovers another world – the world of loan sharks and bankruptcy; of elaborate lies to conceal identity; of bad debts to “the good life” that can only be paid in blood.
It managed to mostly keep my interest but the ending was rather anti-climactic. It was more of a ‘whydunnit’ than a typical whodunnit and while the detective’s perseverance to discover the truth was enough to carry me along, it lacked suspense or drama. It also felt a little bit dated, perhaps not surprising since it originally came out in 1992. After having read Natsuo Kirino’s Out and Ryu Murakami’s In the Miso Soup, the ‘crime’ wasn’t terribly shocking or original and I think those books do a better job of commenting on the effects of rampant consumerism or urban isolation. They were definitely more shocking and gruesome though. I always have a fondness for Japanese settings but that wasn’t enough to make this more than just an ok read. If I try any more of her books, it’ll be from the library.

3 comments:

  1. Nice new banner! Gotta love paper lanterns. ^__^

    Sorry the book wasn't good. So far I'm doing good.

    I remember once reading a 'whydunnit' and I was so mad! They told us who the murderer was in like the second chapter. Then all there was to do was to find out WHY they did it. Didn't like that at all.

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  2. Hadn't heard of this one but like you I also really like Japanese settings. I did try "Out" but I couldn't get into it at the time. That is not a book to be read before bedtime! I think I need to give it another go though.

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  3. Mailyn,
    Thanks. It is a black background though and I know how you hate those!
    I think a 'whydunnit' can be good but it depends on how it's written I guess. This one just wasn't terribly exciting.

    Iliana,
    'Out' is definitely pretty shocking and violent so not a bedtime book if you're prone to bad dreams. Like isn't really the right word, but I did like it and it had me right to the end.

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