Blurb from the back cover:
A suspenseful noir thriller from one of Japan’s best-selling authors. All She Was Worth takes a journey through the dark side of Japan’s consumer-crazed society. When a beautiful young women vanishes in Tokyo, her distraught fiancé enlist the help of his uncle, a police inspector, to find her. The detective quickly realizes that she is not who she claimed to be, and his search for her brings him to a dangerous financial underworld where insurmountable personal debt lead to crimes of desperation. Her, spending frenzies, stolen identities, and unscrupulous creditors can create a lethal mix.This is my first read for the Third Japanese Literature Challenge. I liked the main character, the police detective Honma, very much and the woman that he was in search of was very intriguing. I found the story compelling and read it fairly quickly because I wanted to know what happened. I found the census and registry procedures in Japan fascinating and especially liked the switching identity story line. Despite an ambiguous ending ,I enjoyed it very much.
There is one aspect of the story which I found a little puzzling which was the extreme consequences of getting over your head in consumer debt. This book was first published in Japan in 1992, 17 years ago. As I was reading I kept wondering whether I was finding it a little dated or whether it was a cultural difference. Today, especially in this recession, I think most people are well aware of the dangers and problems associated with using credit, especially credit cards, to excess and how it can rapidly get out of control. On the other hand, while today stories of people brought to ruin by credit card debt are common, in the U.S. that translates into financial ruin. While you might have to declare bankruptcy and not be able to use credit in the future, no one is going to kidnap or murder you. I suppose if you do go to loan sharks things could get dicey but I also think it unlikely that people in the U.S. go to loan sharks to pay off credit card debt rather than just defaulting on the debt. In the story people go to great lengths to avoid defaulting on debt and consequently get themselves mixed up with a deadly bunch of characters. Do people in Japan avoid defaulting on debt at all costs or has it become more common for people in Japan to simply walk away from debt these days?