Liora's Reviews > All She Was Worth

All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe
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's review
Dec 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: mystery

The main premise of this book concerns a Tokyo police detective, Shunsuke Honma, who is on medical/disability leave, trying to locate the missing fiance of a distant relative. As he begins to peel back the complicated layers of this woman's past, he uncovers a story of personal identity theft and even murder. Overwhelming debt, personal bankruptcy, and ruthless loan sharks are central to the plot of why the fiance went missing and the theft of personal identity.

One of this novel's main themes seems to be critiquing Japanese attitudes and laws governing consumer debt and personal bankruptcy. There are a couple extended, shall I say...lectures...on the topic in the narrative. These lectures seem to attempt to place more of the blame on society and the economic system than on individuals for personal bankruptcy. I found the descriptions of the elaborate methods that Japan uses to control personal identity with the family registers very interesting, and these, naturally, play a critical role in the plot.

The story moves somewhat slowly through the myriad of details uncovered as Honma methodically questions people about the missing woman and a more sinister plot becomes revealed bit by bit. I really liked the main character, Shunsuke Honma, and felt that his being a widower, his bad leg, and his 10 year old adopted son, made him a very sympathetic detective. The investigation took Honma all over Japan and it was intriguing to see how Japanese culture played into the story.

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