Sujata Massey is the Agatha Award winning author of the Rei Shimura mysteries. Rei is a bright young Japanese-American with a passion for antiques and a talent for solving crimes. The contrast between the values she has as a modern woman of the West and the often jarring culture of a Japan torn between traditional values and numerous subcultures dominated by things like anime, manga, and cosplay adds drama to the popular mysteries. Sujata was kind enough to share her love of libraries with us.
“One of the best things my mother ever did for me, when I was a child growing up in 1970s Minnesota, was a weekly library trip. I could check our as many books as I liked as long as I could carry them in the tote bag she gave me. Unbelievably, I read all those books and didn’t lose them. I wanted to get back the next week for more. When I was in my late 20s and living abroad as a new Navy wife, I decided that I would try writing a mystery novel, but I wanted to make a thorough study of the range of mysteries and, hopefully, learn a bit from the masters of the genre. I was in Japan, and my only library option for the English language was the Yokosuka Navy base library. It was unlikely that really new books were on the shelves. Its collection was started during the late 40s during the Occupation , and spanned to the present. So I read from Phyllis Whitney to Marcia Muller and Sue Grafton with great enjoyment. And eventually, I did manage to write and publish my first novel. I continue to use libraries for pleasure reading and to help with my writing, although now I typically read historical accounts and memoirs, so I have the facts right about the British Raj period, the setting of my next book, a historical suspense novel called The Sleeping Dictionary. Libraries and I have come full circle, from my first delighted explorations as someone learning to read, to those of a seasoned novelist who continues to use them for the knowledge base that fuels my fiction. Long Live Libraries!”
Some of the Rei Shimura mysteries include:
The Salaryman’s Wife, Zen Attitude, The Floating Girl, The Pearl Diver, The Flower Master, Girl in a Box, and Shimura Trouble.
Sujata added later that her heroine Rei would select library books by authors like Lafcadio Hearn, Sophie Kinsella, and Laura Joh Rowland. If there was a Rei Shumira movie, her choice to portray the sleuth would be actress Lucy Liu.