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The Pearl Diver [Paperback]

Sujata Massey

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Product details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; Reprint edition (8 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060597909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060597900
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,568,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Search for a Missing Pearl 26 Oct 2004
By J. Vilches - Published on
Rei Shimura is living in Washington DC with her fiancé Hugh after being forced to leave Tokyo. She feels a little lost and aimless in her new home and isn't excited about planning her wedding, so she's delighted when the opportunity to decorate a new Japanese restaurant drops into her lap. Rei jumps into her work with both feet and things are going well until her cousin Kendall is abducted from the opening dinner. Was it politics, a restaurant rivalry, or something even more sinister?

While the police are investigating the kidnapping, the restaurant's snooty hostess asks Rei to investigate the decades-old disappearance of her Japanese war-bride mother. Andrea reached out to her because they are both half-Japanese, and Rei feels obligated to help. Just as they launch their plan to get more information from Andrea's father, Rei's Aunt Norie shows up from Japan to plan her wedding. Norie soon gets pulled into the missing-mother mystery. When Rei's investigations into the past turn dangerous in the present, it threatens to ruin her relationship with Hugh.

This is Massey's seventh Rei Shimura book, and although most of the others have taken place in Japan, Rei is no stranger to America. This can easily be read stand-alone, but it might be helpful to start earlier in the series to get a better feel for the relationship between Rei and Hugh.

Massey is very good at drawing tension from the conflict between Japanese traditionalism and American individualism and independence. On the one hand, Rei obviously finds it hard to say no to people and is horrified that Norie might find out about her living arrangements with Hugh. But at the same time she is reluctant to take on the role of a wife and wants to be in full control of her own destiny. Rei's turmoil about her future unfolds against the hectic whirlwind of restaurant crises and her investigations for Andrea. In a couple of places there was so much happening at once, it almost felt like I needed to catch my breath while reading.

Rei, Hugh and Norie are likeable and interesting characters, and Andrea became more sympathetic as events unfolded. However, I didn't like that most of the other characters with significant roles ranged from slightly unpleasant to over-the-top obnoxious. Still, it was an absorbing story, and I like Massey's insight into culture clash.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of Japan 18 Oct 2004
By Wendy Kaplan - Published on
Those of us who have read the wonderful Rei Shimura series from its inception have followed with great interest her adventures in Japan. Half Japanese, half American, Rei fits completely into neither culture, which is the main reason for her enormous charm. But in the last book or two, she is in the United States, and I hope this isn't forever.

Mindful of spoilers, I won't tell those who have not read the entire series the story of Rei's departure from Japan. It is mentioned in this book, but only in passing. Rei now lives in Washington, DC, with her hunky fiance, Scottish lawyer Hugh Glendenning. At the beginning of this book, they are planning their wedding, and as always, Rei is reluctant to commit (a trait that becomes annoying for the very first time, at least to me, in this installment).

A struggling antiques dealer, Rei is thrilled when she gets a commission to decorate an up-and-coming Japanese restaurant newly purchased by a trendy DC restauranteur. But as she becomes involved with the kitchen help, the nasty but interesting hostess Andrea, and a cast of other characters, Rei once again switches from onlooker to sleuth. Somebody kidnaps her wealthy cousin on the eve of the restaurant's gala opening, and the plot thickens from there.

Rei's delicious Aunt Norrie is in this book, fresh from Japan, and a welcome reminder of Rei's background--like a delicate spice in a Japanese soup. And Rei is her own difficult self, with the old push-pull of her traditional ways and her ultra modern self. But some of the piquancy of the earlier novels has been lost in the all-American venue, and I miss it.

I would never miss one of Sujata Massey's novels, and I eagerly look forward to the next one, but like other reviewers, I hope that she allows Rei and Hugh to go back to Japan--at least for the next few books!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Totally phony 4 Jan 2006
By Surabhi - Published on
The impression I get was that this book was written for effect. It is as if Massey wants to prove that she is a hard-core Washingtonite (if I may use that word). Throwing in the political angle was superflous as well - Senator Snowden - give me a break.

There is no real story here - the plot about the pearl diver is just added in to connect the ramblings about the restaurant and Washington political scene.

On the whole this was not a satisfying read at all.

And finally why the negative review of Rei's work at the restarant? What did that achieve?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well written, totally abosrbing and wholly addicting 6 Aug 2004
By tregatt - Published on
Rei and Hugh are finally engaged, and Rei should be frantically preparing for her upcoming wedding. Except that a strange kind of malaise seems to have infected her: she's beginning to dislike living in Washington D.C. and she's really missing living in Japan. So that when (through her well connected cousin, Kendall) Rei is presented with the opportunity of decorating a new and trendy Japanese restaurant, Bento, Rei fairly leaps at the chance to earn some money. Plus she may actually latch onto a new market for her antique goods!

Working at Bento, Rei becomes acquainted with the restaurant's prickly hostess, Andrea -- a seemingly cold and standoffish individual, and not someone that Rei would want as a friend. So that when Andrea asks Rei to help her discover what happened to her mother, Rei is floored. But Andrea's story of how her Japanese mother, Sadako, broke with tradition in order to marry Andrea's father (an African American soldier) in the midst of the Vietnam war, of Sadako's subsequent disappearance almost 30 years ago, and her father's reluctance to divulge anything to Andrea that could help her understand Sadako's disappearance, moves and intrigues Rei; and she soon finds herself totally absorbed with Andrea's problem to the extent that she's even involved her wise and beloved visiting Aunt Norie in her investigation. The more Rei uncovers about Sadako and her early difficulties in trying to adapt to her life in America and as a new wife, the more Rei begins to question her the wisdom of getting married so soon. Defnitely, her love for Hugh is true and all consuming (as is his love for her) but is it enough? Can Rei give up her independence and become the perfect wife? And can she make do with life in America when she still wistfully yearns to return to Japan?

Like the previous reviewers, I'm a fan of Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura mystery novels. What I liked about them, other than that they're well written, totally absorbing and wholly addicting, is the manner in which the authour also makes the dilemmas that a young, not so well off, modern and independent woman would feel and go through as she tries to adjust to the many vagaries that life throws at her, an integral part of the series. The mystery of what happened to Andrea's mother (Is she alive or dead? Why did she disappear and is there some dark reason for her disappearance?) doesn't really get introduced until we're about 4 or 5 chapters into "The Pearl Diver;" however, because we are treated to an update on what's going on with Rei and Hugh, and a good and succinct description of the what's going on at the restaurant and the characters involved, the reader's interest is quickly snagged and engaged from the very first page. The mystery subplot dealing with the missing Sadako was a very intriguing and interesting one, and I rather wished that "The Pearl Diver" had dwelt solely on that mystery subplot instead of sharing it with the mysterious kidnapping subplot involving Rei's cousin, Kendall. On the whole, though, "The Pearl Diver" was a wonderful read, and one that I enjoyed completely, esp since the authour had thoughtfully included Rei's Japanese aunt, Norie (one of my favourite characters) in this installment.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rei gets older and wiser, but stays hip, smart and stylish 3 Aug 2004
By M. G Haury - Published on
I am a big fan of this series. Although I miss the descriptions of Tokyo (Rei is living in DC with hunky Hugh), this is a terrific addition to Rei's adventures. The description of Rei's Aunt Norie and her visit is comical and priceless. Rei is getting more mature and her evolving relationship with Hugh is bittersweet and not to be missed!
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