Sujata Massey returns with the sixth book in the continuing adventures of the young Japanese-American Rei Shimura. The Samurai's Daugher picks up immediately after the events of the previous book in the series, The Bride’s Kimono. Having decided to take a brief hiatus from her antique business, Rei is in San Francisco visiting with her parents, and she embarks on a project researching her ancient Samurai family’s history. It’s near Christmas time and Rei’s off-again, on-again Scottish boyfriend, Hugh Glendinning, comes to 'Frisco, too. He’s deeply involved in a vital class action lawsuit on behalf of people forced to endure hard labor for Japanese companies during World War II. At first, her national pride makes Rei bristle upon hearing Hugh’s latest case, but later her American sense of justice prevails and she’s soon deeply involved with Hugh on the case.
But then the client is found dead, and mysterious break-ins start to occur at the Shimura household. Rei can’t find any clue linking the two incidents, but she’s troubled nonetheless. She also feels uneasy about the quiet Japanese medical student, Manami, whom her generous-hearted parents have taken on as a boarder and into their hearts. Her probing into her family’s history also brings unpleasant surprises for Rei, and this creates conflict between Rei and her father. When her vacation is over, Rei returns to Japan to continue nosing into Hugh’s case with some dangerous consequences.
With the continuing adventures of Rei Shimura, Sujata Massey has demonstrated time and again that she’s a master at mixing murder and mystery with culture and art, and this book is just the latest example. The Samurai's Daughter has loads of conflict ranging from intellectual to cultural. As usual, through Rei we come to see the essential differences in virtually every aspect of life which exist between Eastern and Western civilizations. As a young Japanese-American, Rei uneasily straddles the two cultures, trying to embrace both but fully succeeding in neither. Here Rei is more torn than ever before. Her pride in her Japanese heritage is severely shaken when she comes to learn of the atrocities that Japan unleashed upon innocents during WWII, but the cruelest blow comes when she learns the part her own ancestor played in all this. This story has a serious aspect, and a controversial topic for its central theme. Readers come away with more insider knowledge about Japan - its customs, rites, rituals, food, clothes, art, history, culture, people – in general, all the intimate little and useful little details than any travel guide can provide. In the midst of all this, Rei’s turbulent relationship with Hugh takes a surprising turn, causing turmoil in the Shimura clan. Nobody is as they appear to be, creating additional suspense in what is already an entertaining mystery.
Massey has created a wonderful story in The Samurai’s Daughter. She skillfully intersperses culture, political and social conflicts with romance and mystery, providing readers with a thoughtful, provocative, educative, well-rounded and compelling book.