The American writer Sujata Massey, who was originally born in Sussex, in the United Kingdom, has been a writer of mystery novels for some time now, with a vast array of titles under her belt, notably the Rei Shimura series for which she has become best known for. Having written twelve books so far and counting, she has managed to create a legacy which has left a lasting impression upon the publishing industry, whilst setting up a whole new approach to the genre in the process. Giving it her own unique take, she has created a style and tone that is all her own, focusing much of her writing career on the character of Rei Shimura in the process.
Early and Personal Life
Born in 1964 in the English county of Sussex, Sujata Massey spent the first five years of her life living in the United Kingdom before moving on to America with both her parents. This is something that has weighed heavily on her career and her writing, allowing her to feed her experience back into her work, providing her narratives and characters with a source of inspiration. Growing up in America she was able to take in what she saw around her, thus building the backstory of her characters that she was to later become famous for.
Educated at the John Hopkins University, she went on to graduate in 1986, giving her the academic grounding she required in taking her career forwards. Taking some time to gain experiential learning as well, she went to work for the Baltimore Evening Sun, where she also spent some time finding her feet and her voice. All of this allowed her to become the writer that she is today, as she took her time to both hone and refine her craft, creating a highly idiosyncratic style and tone.
Writing a vast number of short stories as well, she has managed to prove herself as a fully fledged and extremely versatile writer over the years, something which has taken her time and effort to achieve. With her B.A. in the Writing Seminars from her time at university, along with her role undertaken at the Baltimore Evening Sun, she has come a long way since she first set out on her career path. Knowing what her readers want now, she has managed to find her audience, which ranges world-wide, as readers from all across the globe flock to consume her novels.
Continuing to write to this very day, she continues to be source of inspiration to both her peers and contemporaries, along with any future writers looking to make it in her field. Setting up a line of historical novels in the future as well, she always manages to challenge herself, never sticking to one set label, and always moving forwards. With more books set to come out soon, she always has something new planned on the horizon, which she appears set to continue on in to the foreseeable future.
Winning many awards over her long and illustrious writing career, she has a vast amount of acclaim that’s both critical, as well as commercial too. Translated in to a number of different languages as well, she has also managed to find an international audience alongside her national one. This shows her appeal stretching world-wide on a global scale, taking her name and work above and beyond, whilst again showing how far she’s come ever since she started.
Publishing her first book ‘The Salaryman’s Wife’ in 1997 through the Harper Torch publishing house, she’s created eleven books in the Rei Shimura series so far and counting. Then there’s her ‘Daughters of Bengal’ series which she began in 2013, having only created one so far, but more are expected to follow in this historically themed saga shortly. Seeing her writing career grow from strength-to-strength it’s easy to see why she appeals to so many, whether it be her enduring characters or engaging stories, as she appears to be sticking around form some time yet.
The Flower Master
Originally published in 1999, this was to be the third book in the Rei Shimura series, having already created the set-up in the previous two entries. With the character of Rei Shimura being firmly established, it dives straight into her next case, as the amateur sleuth once again has to deal with yet another mystery. Following on in the same style and tone as before, Sujata Massey manages to recapture the essence of what made the first two books work, giving the readers more of what they want.
As Rei Shimura finds her life once again going not quite as expected, with her antiques business not booming as it was before, and her Tokyo lifestyle leaving a lot to be desired, the savvy twenty-something finds her life somewhat lacking. As her love life has also gone out the window recently, she decides to undertake a set of Japanese flower arranging classes, but this quickly evolves into a murder case after her instructor is discovered dead. With her aunt now in the picture as well, the two of them find themselves in the center of a maelstrom of unwanted attention, whether it be the press or otherwise. Who was the killer? Can they find them before it’s too later? What will happen to Rei Shimura’s life after dealing with the case of the flower master?
The Sleeping Dictionary
Setting up the first title in what is to be the ‘Daughters of Bengal’ series, Sujata Massey initially published this in 2013 on the 20th of August. Planned as part of a long-running series, it manages to capture both the style and the tone that Massey is looking for with it, giving the readers a clear idea of what to expect. It also works in the setting up not only the characters and the world that they inhabit, but also the time-period that they are existing within, creating an overall ambiance that’s relative to it.
In 1930 a Bengali village is almost completely wiped out by a large ocean wave, decimating everything leaving behind a single young girl to cope on her own. Adept at languages she goes on to Kharagpur where she’s accepted into a highly secretive and decadent world, before moving on and landing in Calcutta. Following her exploits as she tries to make a life for herself, she’s always slightly out of place, but the narrative continually allows the reader to relate to her throughout. Can she help fight for the freedom of India? Is there a place she can finally call her own? What will become of Pom, renamed Sarah, as she discovers the truth behind the Sleeping Dictionary?
Books in order of publication by series:
Rei Shimura Books
|The Salaryman’s Wife||(1997)|
|The Flower Master||(1999)|
|The Floating Girl||(2000)|
|The Bride’s Kimono||(2001)|
|The Samurai’s Daughter||(2003)|
|The Pearl Diver||(2004)|
|The Typhoon Lover||(2005)|
|Girl in a Box||(2006)|
|The Kizuna Coast||(2014)|
Rei Shimura Short Stories/Novellas
|Junior High Samurai||(2011)|
|The Convenience Boy||(2011)|
|The Deepest Blue||(2011)|
Rei Shimura Collections
|Convenience Boy and Other Stories of Japan||(2011)|
Perveen Mistry Books
|The Widows of Malabar Hill||(2018)|
|The Satapur Moonstone||(2019)|
|The Sleeping Dictionary||(2013)|
|The Ayah’s Tale||(2013)|
Short Story Collections
|Killer Femmes 2: Small Bites||(2016)|