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Shadow Family Hardcover – February 4, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; 1St Edition edition (February 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770030029
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770030023
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What starts as a dry police procedural intensifies into an Agatha Christie–style closed-room puzzle in this intriguing look at contemporary Japanese family life from Miyabe (All She Was Worth). Sergeant Takegami, an accomplished desk jockey, winds up taking an active role in investigating two separate murders, one of a bland company man, Ryosuke Tokoroda, and the other of a woman who proves to be the first victim's college-age girlfriend. Takegami learns that Tokoroda participated in Internet chat rooms and established a cyber "family" where he played the "Dad." The faux family, which included a wife, a son and a daughter, seemed to be an idealized unit, supportive and loving. This paternal perfection contrasted to the frosty relations Tokoroda had with his actual wife and daughter. Tokoroda's history of extramarital affairs complicates the inquiry, as do reports of a stalker plaguing his real-life daughter. Miyabe expertly manipulates mood and pace as the action builds to a house-of-mirrors-like interview that slowly reveals the killer's surprising identity. The clean, crisp translation is the perfect vehicle for this satisfying read. (Feb. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Though Miyabe's thriller is set in the electric city of Tokyo, almost all of the action takes place in the small interrogation room of a police station. A middle-aged "salaryman" and his young mistress have been murdered. A colleague's illness propels Desk Sergeant Takegami into leading the investigation, with his former partner Detective Chikako Ishizu brought in to help. They soon learn that the murdered man, married with a daughter, had an online "family" for whom he played the role of "Dad." As police attempt to track down the fantasy family, the real-life daughter of the murdered man complains that she is being stalked. Most of the story recounts the interrogation of the fantasy family members--"Mom," son "Minoru," and daughter "Kazumi"--as the real daughter watches from behind a two-way mirror. Although the English translation of this Japanese original sounds a bit stilted, almost like a dubbed movie, the novel offers a fascinating look at the dark side of the Internet. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I will read this book again if I can.
Erica Phillipson (Hawaii)
And there are just enough twists and turns in the book, in particular at the end, that still makes the ending well worth the effort.
Unfortunately, the actual story is a disappointment -- inert, suspenseless, and easy to figure out.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In her native Japan, Miyuki Miyabe is as much a household name as John Grisham or Stephen King. While not the avante guard genius of Haruki Murakami, she is a respected and popular author of crime fiction, with quite a few books to her credit, and some movie adaptations as well. "Shadow Family" (original Japanese title "R.P.G." ) is her second book to be translated into English, following the excellent "All She was Worth."

"Shadow Family" covers the murders of middle-aged husband and father Ryosuke Tokoroda and his college-age lover Naoko Imai. Through the course of the investigation, it is uncovered that Tokoroda had an online "family," where he role-played the loving father to a make-believe wife, daughter and son. In real life he was a cold and selfish philanderer, but online he became the loving, supportive father that every child dreams of.

Aside from a few expositionary chapters, it is a "single-room" mystery, not unlike "12 Angry Men," where all the tension takes place in a police interrogation chamber. The investigators and the suspects engage in a battle of wills, each trying to get the other to slip up and make a mistake, in a fencing match of "Who knows what." One by one Tokoroda's online "family" is called in, while his real-life daughter Kazumi watches from behind the 2-way mirror, peeling away the layers of mystery that were her father.

"Shadow Family" is not as strong a book as "All She was Worth," but is still an engrossing read and a real page-turner. The opening expositionary chapters are slow, and it takes awhile to get into the pace of the book. Once all the players are assembled in the interrogation room, however, the story takes off and the psychological fencing begins.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kai on March 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am of the opinion that if you entered this book's world with certain expectations (such as from the synopsis, or from having read All She Was Worth/Kasha), then you might leave this book with a perplexed "wtf?" at the end. If you enter with no such expectation, then I can guarantee that you'll not only enjoy this novel, but also marvel at the unconventional way she went at revealing the story.

Having never read her other books before, I came at Shadow Family with no real expectation (so yay for me). What I realized, is that even though Takegami and Chikako were named in the synopsis as "main characters", they are ANYTHING but! The detectives in the story are nothing more than props, and they are MEANT to be that way. They are the instigator of the revelation of the "drama" that occurred, and are mere watchers of what it might reveal. And as such, the viewers are ALSO a watcher, nothing more. This is precisely why I believe the so called "main characters" were never fleshed out. Because this story has nothing to do with Takegami and Chikako, and has everything to do with the "Shadow Family" and the ups and downs of a Japanese family that went head first into the ditch.

In any case, the majority of the real story occurs in a Police interrogation room. There is no real "action" of the traditional sense - you're not getting Takegami or Chikako running around trying to capture the villain. All the characters are already collected in that Interrogation room; everything is already in place. All that's left is the "revelation." in a more typical western mystery or thriller novel, this "revelation" come at the very end of the book, usually lasts no more than, what, 2 pages?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Craobh Rua on October 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Shadow Family" was first published in Japan as "RPG" in 2001, and is the second of Miyuki Miyabe's novels to be translated into English.

Ryosuke Tokoroda's body was found by police in late April, following reports of a disturbance in a building site. Initially, the investigation into his murder was being handled by FCID's Third Squad - a team that included Fusao Nakamoto, the city's longest serving desk chief. Nakamoto's position is a senior one - one that largely involves shuffling papers and writing reports rather than actively investigating cases. He had, however, confided to a colleague - Etsuro Takegami, another long-serving desk sergeant - that he was keen to return to a more active role. Takegami was initially working on a separate case - the murder of Naoko Mai, a college student found strangled in a karaoke club. When the two cases are linked by certain strands of evidence, however, the two friends realise they are going to be working a little more closely. There are suspicions the Tokoroda and Mai were killed by the same person, and it soon becomes apparent the pair had known each other for several years. As it turns out, the pair had been lovers for a time - Tokoroda, despite being married with a teenage daughter, wasn't an entirely devoted husband.

Although the relationship between the pair had foundered, they had continued to spend some time together. The chief suspect for their murders came from Naoko's ongoing love life - "Miss A", the suspect in question, had been dropped by her boyfriend after he met Naoko. However, despite having plenty of motive and no alibi, there was no actual evidence tying her to either murder - and Nakamoto was one of several who wanted to look for other suspects in Tokoroda's background.
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