All She Was Worth
By Miyuki Miyabe
Setting & details: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Authenticity of Japanese characters & dialogue: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Translation quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Entertainment value: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
My recommendation: A gripping mystery with a satisfying solution, set in an exceedingly genuine Tokyo filled with characters who are appealingly human, and also 100% Japanese
This excellent mystery is the first one by bestselling Japanese mystery writer Miyuki Miyabe that became available in English, and it’s still my favorite. If you haven’t read any of hers, you’re in for a treat!
It checks all the boxes: a police detective with a young son (and issues that are believable, rather than crippling and off-putting), a victim who turns out to be not all all what she seems, and a plot that wends its clever way through a Tokyo so real that when you surface to catch your breath, you’re surprised not to hear Japanese being spoken around you.
This tale poses the question, “How far would someone go to escape their life?” and in answering it, conveys how nearly impossible it would be to do so in the red tape-bound bureaucracy of Japan. It’s a brilliant variation on the “locked room” mystery, and manages to make the world’s largest city feel as confining as a sealed box.
You can get it right now from your favorite bookseller, or check out the Jan-Feb Japanagram to see if you won a copy! All subscribers are automatically entered to win—if you’re not among them yet, click this button to subscribe, and be automatically signed up to enter.
How I pick the book giveaway winners: On the last day of each month, I load all the email addresses of Japanagram subscribers into a random name picker on the Web and ask it to choose subscribers to match however many books I’m giving away that month. Then I publish the emails in the next day’s Japanagram (all emails obscured in a way so only the subscriber will be able to recognize it as their own, of course!)
Books are the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list!
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist