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All She Was Worth

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,049 ratings  ·  410 reviews
Here is a deftly written thriller that is also a "deep and moody" (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW) journey through the dark side of Japan's consumer-crazed society. Ordinary people plunge into insurmountable personal debt and fall prey to dangerous webs of underground creditors-so dangerous, in fact, that murder may be the only way out. A beautiful young woman vanishes, and th ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published May 12th 1999 by Mariner Books (first published July 1st 1992)
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Brandon Gier has a digital copy you can rent if you're still looking for one.… has a digital copy you can rent if you're still looking for one.(less)

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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  3,049 ratings  ·  410 reviews

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Jr Bacdayan
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
A simple missing persons case morphs into identity theft and then something else entirely. It revolves around the pieced together accounts of different people to create a woman's identity. A woman on a determined quest to be rid of her demons. In this process she sheds her skin and becomes a ghost-like figure that takes on different roles and shapes to different people. This is fascinating to a degree because you never hear from her, never take on her point of view, all you know of, you know fro ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: bookcrossing readers
All She was Worth was billed to me as a mystery and thriller and aside from reading Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto, I've not read a lot of Japanese Literature so I was intrigued to see how this would pan out. Would I be introduced to Japan's answer to Lisbeth Salander, Endeavour Morse or Magnum PI? Er no. None of the above. You will be introduced to Tokyo Metropolitan Police Detective Shunsuke Honma who is polite, and dogged and due to an injury at work is taking his crime solving at a mor ...more
Patrick Sherriff
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-and-such, japan
A decent police procedural this, with lots of good touches but a few flaws. On the plus side of the ledger are the sleuth, a widower with an adopted son and a gammy leg; an ingenious believable premise of stolen identity; and the completely authentic setting of the seedier side of 90s Japan trying to keep the bubble inflated on borrowed money.

But in the minus column, a couple of pages demand to be skipped where a lawyer spouts exposition on the dangers to, and legal standing of heretofore not a
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
While Police Detective Shunsuke Honma is on leave after he injured his leg, a distant relative of his late wife appears and asks for help. His fiancée Shoko Sekine has disappeared after a bank rejected her application for a credit card, revealing her past bankruptcy.


Honma’s investigation reveals the woman’s descent into debt, a common problem in Japan’s consumer driven economy. But soon he finds out the fiancée might have murdered the real Shoko Sekine and taken over the woman’s identity.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I was on board with this book almost entirely through, but then somewhere in the last chapter or two felt that the "answer" was a bit less interesting than I had hoped when I went into the reading. The book is still good, particularly as insight into Japanese society and culture in the 1990s.

What's especially "fun" and interesting about this book is that it's so relevant still to today. Credit card debt. Ah, who doesn't have any of that? (Besides me, but only because I don't have one.) I'm surro
Jul 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Not only well-paced but well-written, this mystery of the missing fiancee lost its momentum in only one scene, in which a Japanese businessman felt it necessary to take an hour out of his busy day to explain to another Japanese citizen the country's policy on identification cards, loans, and bankruptcy. Sure, I may not have known this information as an American and it was helpful to learm, but it was carried out so ollishly and pedantically in this translation, I wish the editors had found some ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A policeman is asked by his nephew to look for his missing fiance. The policeman is on convalescent leave so takes the case on. What follows is a painstaking investigation that uncovers deception, murder, impersonation and dangerous links to the Japanese underworld in the former of loan sharks and yakusa enforcers.

A competent crime thriller which was a real page turner, as the cop follows a trail from clue to clue. Japan is a very different culture to my own and I enjoyed being immersed in a som
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a great plot this is! Love the characters, engrossing storytelling, gripping case(s), and most of all-- love the ending!

I was quite annoyed with Jun at first-- really appreciate how the author silently drifting his character out of the narrative making it all only on Honma. I was too focusing on how Honma could managed the case going here and there all by himself with that unwell leg, thinking and guessing all together with him. It was a hard case-- missing woman, and another missing woman.
The main takeaways of this book are the dangers of credit card debt.
William Leight
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
[More like 3.5 stars really]

There are, I believe, two types of mystery, which differ based on their attitude to crime. The first type, the classical, sees crime as an aberration in a fundamentally healthy society. Criminals commit their crimes purely for personal reasons: there is no connection between crime and larger societal ills. Agatha Christie novels of the 20’s and 30’s, for instance, often have a Communist character, and suspicion naturally falls on him, because he’s a Communist, but he
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
FIVE STARS: usually I wait until I have read a title a couple times to be certain it's one that will provide increasing returns, but this is the best new book I've read in a long time.

Anyone with a serious interest in noir fiction should be reading Japanese mystery; preferably women writers publishing in the early 1990s and onward. I have no idea what's in the water -- cultural or literal -- that such a specific subset would consistently produce such compelling and complex titles in this partic
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, adult
Miyuki Miyabe
All She Was Worth
Gramedia Pustaka Utama
473 pages

Miyuki Miyabe's adult thriller, All She Was Worth, portrays an interesting case revolving stolen identity happened in 1990's era. However, the investigation is really long and Miyabe's tendency to add unnecessary details doesn't help, making me question whether finding her is worth it or not.
Let's face it, All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe has a rather good English translation, the translator Alfred Birnbaum does have some good writing going for him, and his English does make the story catchy; but on the other hand, the Chinese translation that I read is just one great flat boredom.

I like that the heroine(?) isn't some (view spoiler), she is just a girl struggling to survive in a really bad situation, I also like the story addresses the horro
This is quite readable, though I'm not entirely sure why. I found the characterisations quite distant (possibly because of the translation), the mystery not terribly mysterious (mostly focused on finding out how the crime was achieved, not why or by whom), and the ending quite abrupt. Yet some of the book's central themes—the dangers of materialism, of the credit system and how people get caught up in it—are sadly just as relevant now as they were when this book was written in the early 90s. My ...more
Jessica Huwae
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: just-bought
It was my first time reading Miyuki Miyabe's work and I must say that I really enjoyed it. It reminds me of my pre-teen era when I spent of my days reading detective novels before I switched it to more literature books during Uni years. I love the way Ms Miyabe narrates things, so lyrical, yet it stays in your head for long. Will look forward to read more of her works soon. ...more
Divine Anas
Finally, read the first book of my 2021! This was pretty interesting to read and I love the social commentary on the gravity of debts and consumerism. Yup, totally not the usual theme you'd see on Japanese crime fiction. I also don't think that this was a thriller, to be honest, but it's more of a slow burn trail of mystery-solving, so I do understand why the usual thrill-seeking reader won't enjoy this much.

I've also seen a lot of reviews complaining about why there has to be some sort of long-
Ian Josh
Oct 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Some good parts, so much time spent on economics...

Full review coming November 2018

Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
The blurb on the back says that All She Was Worth is an "artful blending of puzzle-solving and social commentary," and I suppose it does blend those two, but I'm not sure about how artfully it was done. The social commentary part was pretty heavy-handed, with more than one long-winded description of the evils of the credit industry. The thing is, those descriptions weren't even really necessary; the story got that message through without them.

There were a couple parts I didn't really understand
Jun 23, 2009 rated it liked it
I picked up All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe a few months ago because I liked Brave Story, a novel geared towards younger audiences. All She Was Worth was Miyabe’s first adult book that I’ve read and one of the few mystery novels I’ve read this year.

All She Was Worth starts off with the disappearance of a woman and follows an on-leave detective as he tries to find her and uncover the unusual circumstances in which she disappeared. Although that’s the main mystery flowing through the book, I di
Marina Sofia
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a solid mystery written very much in the Western style rather than Japanese. Semi-retired Inspector Honma is a patient, not terribly charismatic but well-meaning middle-aged man who gets involved in his nephew's problem about a missing fiance. Bit by bit, in drips and drabs - sometimes in increments far too small - we find out more about the woman who has disappeared and just what she has been up to. A very realistic description of an investigation, perhaps, at a pace that is more remini ...more
Whaouh! what a thriller!
so uncommun story! just amazing!
i can give another title to this novel: When a credit card becomes a one way ticket to hell!
the story is about Honma an inspector recovering from a work related injury, when a cousin of his deceased wife asks him to look for his missing fiancée who run away when he found out about her bankruptcy.
and so when Honma starts his unofficial invistigation, it will quickly highlight the fact that Shoko (the fiancée) lived in a false identity. So w
Sifa Farisa
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My kind of psychological thriller, genre that I like. Though the pace is pretty slow like typical Japanese novel, but it really is worth reading.
180518:lost the review for this one. definitely five stars. lonely, moody, tragic, wistful. i think i dropped the first review because i was going to read it again... other books distracted me...
Tom Sos
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a period piece. A gentle thriller about stolen identity written, before that phrase became a commplace vase to place a wide-range of crimes and misdemeanors, about a year before the internet blossomed Mosaic was the big browser on the internet, which was usually called the Wide World Web or the Information Superhighway. Nobody had any foreshadowing of the need for "social media" or the danger that their whole life could be assembled by strangers from central databases. It turns out, howe ...more
Elizabeth  Higginbotham
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe had been in my shelf for a long time. Published in 1992 and recognized as the best novel and best mystery in Japan the book is amazing. We follow a Japanese detective who is on leave due to an injury. He has a young son and they are both coping with the lost of the wife/mother, Chizuko, who was killed in an accident. They are close with a couple, the Isakas, whose lives were challenged by economic times, but the man, Tsuneo, loves housekeeping and cooking, so h ...more
Madhulika Liddle
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Detective Inspector Honma of the Metropolitan Police is on leave, recuperating from an injury, when he receives a visit from a relative. Young, rich and successful Jun comes to ask for help: his fiancée, Shoko Sekine, has gone missing. She seems to have bolted shortly after Jun broached the topic of getting her a credit card. Jun asks Honma to (informally, not as a cop) look for Shoko.

So Honma gets on the job, and discovers something very murky. Shoko Sekine had, some years back, filed for bank
Melissa C
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tokyo cop Shunsuke Honma is in the midst of a few months' sick leave to recover from being shot in the knee in the line of duty. A distant cousin begs him, as a favor, to track down the cousin's fiancée Shoko Sekine, who has suddenly vanished from sight on it being discovered she has a bankruptcy in her past. Reluctantly, because of his gammy leg and because, as a widower, he'd rather use his sick leave to spend time with young son Makoto, Honma agrees to take on a case that soon proves to be on ...more
Laborious investigation, very realistic, but I think these kind of stories, I would rather watch the movie. From a book, a novel, I always expect something more than just a story, with an outcome, I want to really learn something new about "humanity"... which here is rather lacking, for me, as we do not get a lot of insight in the actual mental dynamics of our criminal...

The last 20 pages were really good.

It was ok, well structured, well written, but not my favorite genre. I may try other novel
Ardita Çaesari
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story would have been far creepier (Japanese level creepy) if it reduces less details on consumer lending and restructures the way it was written.

However, presented in a linear and chronological manner, following the perspective of one person (happens to be a man), made the book easier for the writer to write. Although I sort of lost in the timeline since it was not written in the chapters.

A gem!

(Though I still hold “Out” (1997) as the creepiest, goriest, and most thrilling Japanese crime s
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Bookoholics: Book Discussion # 102 ; Genre Crime/Mystery: All She Was Worth 1 10 Nov 09, 2018 03:45PM  

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See also 宮部みゆき (Japanese language profile) and 宮部美幸 (Chinese language profile).

Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき Miyabe Miyuki) is a popular contemporary Japanese author active in a number of genres including science fiction, mystery fiction, historical fiction, social commentary, and juvenile fiction.
Miyabe started writing novels at the age of 23. She has been a prolific writer, publishing dozens of novels a

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