The seventh book in Sujata Massey's Agatha and Macavity Award–winning mystery series is a witty, suspenseful story that takes its young sleuth into the Washington DC restaurant world.
A dazzling engagement ring and the promise of a fresh start bring antiques dealer and sometime sleuth Rei Shimura to Washington, DC. But just as she's starting to settle down –catching up with a long–lost cousin and undertaking a lucrative commission furnishing a trendy Japanese restaurant nearby – things begin to go haywire. First, her cousin vanishes from the restaurant's opening–night party, and then Rei is drafted to help find a Japanese war bride who disappeared 30 years earlier.
The search for both missing women becomes suspiciously linked, and along the way, Rei faces truths about herself that may change her destiny – if she lives long enough.
About the Author
Sujata Massey was a reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun and spent several years in Japan teaching English and studying Japanese. She is the author of The Salaryman's Wife, Zen Attitude, The Flower Master, The Floating Girl, The Bride's Kimono, The Samurai's Daughter, The Pearl Diver, and The Typhoon Lover. She lives in Minneapolis.
Read an Excerpt
The Pearl DiverA Novel
By Sujata Massey
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Sujata Massey
All right reserved.
I'd scored a single line and a shadow.
Or were they double lines? I squinted at the plastic wand lying on the edge of the bathroom sink. One line meant negative, two positive. There was no definition for one line and the vague suggestion of a shadow.
"What's the verdict? I'm about to dash," Hugh called from the other side of the door.
"Inconclusive," I said, opening the door and holding out the EPT stick like an obscene hors d'oeuvre. "You do the math."
"One. That's easy."
"Don't you see that shadowy line next to it?"
"A line would be pink. That's just a wrinkle in the material." He was already pulling on his Burberry. It was early spring in Washington and had rained for almost a solid week.
"I wish there was an explanation for shadows -- "
"Shadows that only you can see. Darling, if you're really anxious, you could call the consumer help line."
"If I do that, I'm sure they'll tell me to consult my doctor."
"Maybe this means you're a little bit pregnant." Hugh paused in putting on his coat and slipped his hand inside my flannel pajamas to stroke my bare stomach.
"A surprise pregnancy would be a delight, without even a wedding date on the horizon," I said, removing his hand. Hugh and I had been engaged for exactly three months. We had considered a quickie elopement, on the beach in Hawaii, but once our families had gotten wind of the idea, they'd guilt-tripped us out of it. Now we thought we should set the wedding in Washington. But progress was slow. I didn't know the area well and was totally stymied about locations and caterers. I had nothing to show for myself except the guy.
"My cousin was married with new baby in arms and it was the best wedding anyone had been to in years," Hugh said, spinning his rolled-up umbrella through the air before catching it neatly. He was such an optimist: about babies, about the outcome of the class-action suit he was trying to organize, about life in general. He didn't even mind the Washington rain, because it reminded him of Edinburgh. I preferred the hard, blinding rain that made a rock-and-roll sonata on the tile roofs in Japan in the fall, or the warm, humid rains that marked spring's rainy season. But I'd take the Washington rain, because it came with Hugh, and the promise of our future.
After we negotiated the night's dinner plan -- risotto with browned onions and sea scallops if I could find them, and a simple green salad -- Hugh left, and I made myself a quick o-nigiri. I'd kept last night's rice warm in the rice cooker, and I had a small piece of leftover salmon in the fridge. I tucked the salmon into the rice and folded the triangular wedge into a sheet of seaweed that I quickly roasted on the stove.
I ate the rice ball with my left hand and used my right to scroll through the Daily Yomiuri online. I'd been away from Japan about six months now, and I could feel the language beginning to slip. It was my duty as a hafu -- a half-Japanese, half-American -- to keep up. I bypassed woeful economic news and went straight to the language-teaching column aimed at foreigners. The word of the day was zurekin, which meant "off-peak commuting," an idea strongly encouraged by the government but not quite adopted by the working world. It was easier, calmer, better for people and the environment.
At least, that's how it sounded on paper. My whole life had gone from frenetic to zurekin -- and I wasn't sure I liked it. I'd spent my twenties working in Japan, where I'd lived simply and worked hard, and come to believe that everything Japanese was wonderful, even the crowded trains. The problem was, I couldn't live in Japan anymore. I'd been thrown out, for an indefinite length of time, by the government for a misdeed I'd committed in the name of something more important. Now, because of the black mark in my passport, I had to make the best of it in Washington, complaining like all the other Washingtonians about crowded Metro trains that I considered only half-full, and so on. The only thing I truly agreed with was that Washington real estate was as insanely priced as Tokyo's -- though the spaces were bigger.
Hugh's apartment, for instance, a two-bedroom on the second floor of an old town house, had lots to admire -- high ceilings, old parquet floors, a bay window in the living room. It was lovely, but so . . . foreign. The telephone rang, and even that sounded different. I picked it up.
"Hi, honey, what are you doing for lunch?" The throaty voice on the other end of the line belonged to my cousin Kendall Howard Johnson, who lived in Bethesda.
"Kendall?" It annoyed me when people didn't introduce themselves on the phone.
"Yes, Rei." She drew my name out in the exaggerated way she'd pronounced it since we were little. Raaay, it sounded like.
Kendall had grown up in Bethesda, so I'd run into her plenty of times on my childhood visits to my mother's home forty minutes to the north, in Baltimore. Grandmother always called Kendall and me the ladybug team because of Kendall's red and my black hair; a set of cousins the same age who seemed destined to go together, but didn't really. I'd never forget the humiliation of the summer when Kendall was fifteen and she'd taken me in the backyard bushes and produced a joint. I hadn't known how to strike a match, let alone inhale, and I was from the Bay Area, where everyone was supposed to know how to roll. But at the coed boarding school Kendall went to in Virginia, she'd already learned lots of things that I hadn't.
Excerpted from The Pearl Diver by Sujata Massey Copyright © 2005 by Sujata Massey. Excerpted by permission.
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