Mysterious Press, March 2003, 23.95, 224 pp.
Runa Wong is a Japanese woman in her mid-twenties who teaches in a private high school English to fifth year male students. She is having an affair with one of her pupils until she receives a letter threatening her with death and accompanied by a photograph showing her and the student leaving a love motel. Rather than face the consequences, Runa flees to Shanghai where she hopes to meet a friend.
Ralph is an Englishman who owns an art supply store, lives in Carlisle and owns a four-bedroom house. He once had a Thai wife but it didn't work out and she disappeared. However Ralph has not given up his quest for a docile Asian bride. He contacts an agency that specializes in fixing up Japanese women with English or American males but the females want nothing to do with him. He decides to see if an Internet woman in Shanghai would be acceptable to him as he takes the ferry over there. He meets Runa, fixates on her, and decides to marry her until she reveals her true colors. The explosive results turn tragic for both of them.
Susanna Jones gives readers an interesting insight into the cultural aspects of Japan as displays her talent as a fine storyteller. However neither of her protagonists feels likable and consequently fails to engage reader's empathy. Readers will feel that Ralph and Runa live too much inside their head and do not interact enough with other characters including one another. The plot moves passively slow until the action occurs in the last few pages.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner