Beverly Hills
Book Awards 2017

National Indie
Excellence Awards 2018

Lady First

An Inspector Inoue Mystery

The third novel in the Inspector Inoue mystery series takes as its theme Japan’s persisting gender imbalance. As for its title, although Japanese men routinely take precedence over Japanese women in terms of privileges at home or at work, some possessing a knowledge of western ways are in the habit of ironically uttering ‘lady first’ on the rare occasions when they allow a woman to go before them: for example, on entering or leaving a room.

  After young Mayumi Ikeuchi is found dead one mild April evening, stabbed in the back of the neck in a park in the little town of Fujikawa, Chief Inspector Inoue finds, once again, that there is no shortage of suspects. These include Mr Tani, her boss at the nightclub in a neighboring city where she’d started working only a few days before her murder, notorious for sexually harassing the female staff, and Atsushi Taniguchi, an office worker who lives in Mayumi’s neighborhood and has a habit of beating up his wife. There is also Nose-san, a middle-aged loser who inhabits a shabby little house with an elderly, sickly mother just opposite the park where Mayumi’s body is found. Even Misao Ikeuchi, Mayumi’s older sister, is suspected of having been overly possessive of the girl, threatening her when Mayumi had declared she wanted to strike out on her own. Misao had taken on the responsibility of caring for Mayumi when their parents had died in a car accident 10 years earlier.

  Like Imperfect Strangers and Progeny, the latest installment of the Inspector Inoue mystery series is as much a whydunnit as a whodunnit, exploring, in this book, topical issues in modern-day Japan that could constitute possible motives for murder, including the problem of domestic violence and the ugly fact that Japanese women often are treated as second-class citizens in their own country.

But Lady First is a thrilling page-turner as much as it is a critique of Japanese society.


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