Miyuki Miyabe’s All She’s Worth

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. When he digs out the imposter’s background, he realizes that her family’s financial problems had driven her to assume the new identity.

Though the pace is slow and parts of the novel can be taken out without much loss, the search for the identities and backgrounds of the two women is interesting. But what really holds the story together is the problem associated with debt-driven consumer-oriented economy, the common link between the two women, the real and the fake Shoko Sekine. The desire to escape from debt, driving their lives to the sad ending. The issue is as relevant today as it was in the 1990’s.

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