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SHADOW FAMILY by Miyuki Miyabe


by Miyuki Miyabe & translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 4-7700-3002-9
Publisher: Kodansha

A task force from the Tokyo Metro Police Department finds that family ties can be murder, even if they’ve been forged online.

Ryosuke Tokoroda’s wife has always known he’s had a roving eye. His dalliances—most recently schoolgirl Naoko Imai, who worked part-time for his company reporting on a food-supplement project before she was strangled—have been no secret. But no one could have predicted Tokoroda’s latest experiment in extramural relationships. Responding to the chatroom sorrows of a lonely young woman signing herself “Kazumi,” the same name as his own daughter, he’s offered her consolation as “Dad.” Soon the family has sprouted a son, “Minoru,” and a shadow mom, who keep each other posted about feelings too private to share with their real families and even meet in 3-D. When Dad is stabbed to death, their perfect surface shatters in distrust and recriminations—an atmosphere a second shadow family is only too happy to exploit. Uniting once more with Det. Chikako Ishizu, an old friend he hasn’t seen since she was tossed off the arson squad, Etsuro Takegami, a desk sergeant pressed into service by an unexpected hospitalization, plays a key role in an elaborate sting to catch the killer.

Less resonant than All She Was Worth (1997), but still a clever puzzle whose commentary on the fragility and reinvention of families gives it a special edge.