**spoiler alert** The prose is lovely but I found the characters, well unique, bland, and the parallel love stories (to be), as well as the current st...more**spoiler alert** The prose is lovely but I found the characters, well unique, bland, and the parallel love stories (to be), as well as the current stories (Claire and Martin, newly married and having moved to Hong Kong from England way too reminiscent of a cheaper imitation of "The Painted Veil", and Claire the klepto) and the previous stories (Trudy and Will) just kind of boring. I read to 50 pages but I have no desire to go any further. This book is just not for me. (less)
**spoiler alert** Ugh. I absolutely despised the "writing style" of this book, though I can't really say if that's the author's fault or the translato...more**spoiler alert** Ugh. I absolutely despised the "writing style" of this book, though I can't really say if that's the author's fault or the translators' faults, or both. The writing style is very simplistic, as is the dialogue, and the plot itself is very roundabout. The plot itself was boring, the characters flat and unrealistic.
A young woman, Noriko, marries into a large, close-knit family of eight, the Shito family, several generations who all live together in a big house in Tokyo. The family is well off, owning their own businesses and having properties with tenets. Everyone in the family is overly nice and kind to Noriko, calling her "the treasure of the family". Noriko is happy enough with her situation and new family until an accident—an explosion—occurs while she is away, visiting her parents. Noriko becomes suspicious when her new family fails to have any emotional reaction to the explosion, which caused the death of a tenet, an ice vendor and his family. The family offers no real answers to any of Noriko's endless questions, and Noriko's suspicions turn into delusions after she talks things over with an old friend, Tomomi. At first, Tomomi thinks Noriko is crazy with her suspicions, but then she encourages Noriko to not give in so easily and just trust the family when they continue to lie to Noriko.
I read to about page 124 and then I was just couldn't stand it any more. Noriko basically gets upset and more suspicious and more and more delusional and cries a ton and then the family apologizes to her and praises her endlessly, all of which makes Noriko more upset and uneasy. Everything that was already mentioned—the death/murder of the ice vendor and his family, the "Crazy Eggplant" the family grows in their garden, the mysterious nightly goings-on of the family which excludes Noriko, the mysterious Ei, the elderly matriarch of the Shito family and her neighborly visitors, Ei's ability to walk and Mastuzo's (a great-grandfather in the family who has had a stroke) ability to talk normally, etc. At one point, Noriko is hysterical, crying and screaming and threatens to leave the family. She runs upstairs to pack a suitcase and her husband and father-in-law corner her and make her drink drugged tea. Shortly after this, I skimmed the rest of the book.
I'm not quite sure what happened, all the details, but apparently the family has been selling psychotropic mushrooms or something for centuries to all the neighbors in their community. The family has been feeding Noriko these mushrooms to keep her disoriented and calm. Eventually Noriko's accusations of the family's untrustworthiness and possible murderous tendencies and tell her off, and then shortly after that, Ei tells Noriko the "true story" of the Shito family (I have no idea what this is because I skimmed it) and then the whole family undresses and has an orgy which each other. EWWWWWW. GROSS. WTF was this book?! (less)
**spoiler alert** Excellent installment in the series. Interesting, well-fleshed out new characters, fascinating storyline and subplots, great twist a...more**spoiler alert** Excellent installment in the series. Interesting, well-fleshed out new characters, fascinating storyline and subplots, great twist at the end of the novel. Hoping to see more of Detective Tam again in future books, as well as hoping to see (though it might not be possible for the show) to see a similar plot and characters on the TV show.
This book had more of a female empowerment story than previous books, such as "Keepsake" or even "The Mephisto Club", because the women in this story weren't running away from a scary, faceless demon of a man who was always chasing them, one step ahead of their every move; the women, Iris Fang, Bella Li, in this novel were fighters, warriors, constantly training their bodies and minds to eventually come face to face with this ghost-man and pay him back 100-fold for what he had done to their lives, 19 years prior. The payoff was very satisfying and I also liked the "spooky" twist with the third warrior, seen only to Barry Frost and Jane Rizzoli as "The Monkey King". I'm glad Jane got suspicious enough of Detective Tam at near the end of the novel to realize that she wasn't really witness to the appearance of a supernatural figure—but decided in the end not to tell him that she knew who he really was.
I also enjoyed Maura getting to spend some time with "Rat" (from "Ice Cold") in a more normal setting—her home—rather than out in the cold, fighting for their lives. It would have been nice to see another chapter with just the two of them, trying to do some of the normal, touristy activities Maura had planned for them.