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All She was Worth by Miyabe Miyuki. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review ‘s biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

All She Was Worth: Miyuki Miyabe, Alfred Birnbaum: : Books

The complete review ‘s Review:. All She was Worth is a mystery about some women who simply disappear. Or not so simply: Shunsuke Honma, a widower with a ten-year old son, is on leave from the police, limping along after having been shot on duty.


Out of the blue a distant relative he hasn’t seen in years comes begging for his help: The reason for her disappearance becomes apparent fairly quickly: It turns out that she had lived too extravagantly years ago, running up huge credit card debts and eventually having to declare personal bankruptcy.

Now, as soon as she learns that this information has come out, she seems to have fled.

In part All She was Worth is a novel condemning Japanese attitudes towards debt and collection. Several times Miyabe has characters explain how debt has exploded in Japan with the proliferation of credit cards — as well as the lack of protection for creditors.

Collectors’ harassment is common, and the police are unwilling to do much about it. The burden on individuals and families is tremendous, the shame and obligation carrying over to other family members. The possibility of declaring bankruptcy is a relatively new one, but also only a slight safeguard.

No one is too surprised that Sekine might be driven to such extreme measures when her secret comes out. But the story is more complicated than that: She is another woman, who took the identity of Sekine — without being aware of Sekine’s own dark past. Personal identity is strictly controlled in Japan, family registers keeping careful track of them.


Stealing someone’s identity is not a simple matter, and much of the fun in the book is in Honma determining how and why she may have done it. The book plods along in places, and the attempts to explain many of the social and policy issues — personal debt, debt collection, personal identity in Japan — often come across as wroth wooden.

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting idea, and the crimes that are behind it do make for adequate suspense.

A decent mystery, and an interesting glimpse of Japan. Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

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All She was Worth – US. All She was Worth – UK. All She was Worth – Canada. Une carte pour l’enfer – France.