WHAT'S LEFT OF ME IS YOURS by Stephanie Scott


Email this review


In Japan, a daughter explores the crime of passion that took her mother’s life.

Sumiko was just 7 when her mother died and her father moved away; she was raised by her grandfather, who has always maintained that her mother was killed in a car accident. Twenty years later, she answers a phone call meant for him from a prison administrator with information about inmate Kaitarō Nakamura; when the caller realizes whom she is speaking with, she hangs up. With just this detail, Sumiko begins an obsessive quest. She turns up an article headlined “WAKARESASEYA AGENT GOES TOO FAR?” from which she learns that Kaitarō Nakamura was an agent in the “marriage breakup” industry. He was hired by her father to seduce her mother in order to provide grounds for divorce. Nakamura claims that he and her mother had fallen in love and were about to start a new life together. When Sumiko visits Nakamura's defense attorney, the woman hands over all her files and videotaped interviews with her client. Weaving through the story of Sumiko’s search and her recollections of her childhood is the story of her mother and her lover, from the moment he pretended to meet her accidentally at the market and moving inexorably to the murder scene. Scott is a Singaporean British writer born and raised in Southeast Asia; her debut is inspired by a 2010 case in Tokyo and based on years of research. The book proceeds slowly, lingering on enjoyable details of Japanese landscape and food but perhaps not adding enough new information to maintain the level of interest set by the sensational details in the first pages.

An unusual and stylish story of love and murder—less a mystery than a study of emotions and cultural mores.

Pub Date: April 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-385-54470-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020