!!! SPOILER ALERT !!!
By now you should also have a better grasp on what you think of each of the characters, based on their own actions and the way they treat others in the book. So, for this week, pick a character and talk about what that character has done up to this point and how that has changed or added to your assessment of this character. Some of these characters exist simply to move the plot forward, so be careful that you are not making the character more important than he or she is. I have listed the characters again for you here, many of whom were NOT at the minshuku--we meet them when Rei returns to Tokyo. I have grouped the characters in clusters so that their relationship is more obvious:
Rei's family, friends, and frenemies:
- Rei Shimura--a young Japanese American woman [described by one character as a Christmas cake...] who is trying to make a living in Tokyo. She works as an English teacher at Nichiyu--they are marketing a new rice cooker.
- Aunt Norie--Rei's aunt [father's side] who lives in Yokohama with her son Tom; she wishes Rei were more traditional.
- Dr. "Tom" Shimura--Rei's cousin, he is a doctor who works at Saint Luke's Hospital. He helps Rei by translating the autopsy report.
- Richard Randall--Rei's roommate who also works at Nichiyu as an English teacher. There is some question about his sexual orientation...
- Marcelle Chapman--an American tourist who meets Rei on the train to Shiroyama and is also staying at the minshuku. She seemed to be trying to invite herself to be Rei's house guest when they return to Tokyo, but there is not enough room in Rei's tiny apartment, so Marcelle is staying in a hotel in Tokyo.
- Taro and Yuki Ikeda--a couple Rei met at the minshuku. Taro has an interest in "ancient" crime, and Yuki was the one who made the Christmas Cake comment, so although Rei meets them for lunch in Tokyo, it would be hard to call these two "friends."
- Mr. Waka--the convenience store owner who seems to look out for Rei and chides her often about her rice ball fast-food diet!
- Yasushi Ishida--an elderly dealer in antiques who is going to be instrumental in giving Rei some financial security.
- Captain Jiro Okuhara--the police Chief in Shiroyama, he seems to think Rei has more to do with Setsuko's death than she is telling him, but she tells him enough that he arrests Hugh for the murder!
- Mayumi Yogetsu: the innkeeper in Shiroyama, she blames Rei for the broken gas heater that nearly kills her and the torn shoji screen. Her death at Rei's train station is NOT accidental...
The Sendai Group:
- Setsuko Nakamura--Senji's "trophy" wife who loved her clothes and pearls. She is the murder victim who hated her husband and seems to have given birth to a child no one knows anything about.
- Senji Nakamura--an executive with Sendai, he is Setsuko's widower and an associate of Hugh Glendenning. Seiji may or may not be involved with the yakuza, the Japanese mafia, but he definitely is a shady [and somewhat nasty] character. He has a mistress whose black lace teddy is found by Rei when she is searching his house, disguised as a maid. He seems to delight in humiliating women, but can you see him as a murderer?
- Hugh Glendenning--a Scot, a lawyer, and a love interest for Rei, and any other woman within a mile, apparently. He seems to be attracted to Rei, but then again, there is something odd about his relationship with Setsuko--he bought her clothes and accompanied her around town, with the full knowledge of her husband! He has a great apartment in the Roppongi Hills section of the city. He injures his ankle while searching for a missing colleague on the ski slopes and ends up in jail because Rei just can't seem to keep her mouth shut about this case.
- Kenji Yamamoto--a junior salaryman at Sendai. He disappears on the ski slope in Shiroyama and turns up in Hugh's bathroom in Roppongi Hills. There is something slimy about him, and we are about to find out what it is...
- Junichi Ota--Hugh's lawyer. He is somewhat worried about what Rei keeps saying to the police...
- Hikari Yasui--an Office Lady at Sendai who might be missing a black lace teddy.
Club Marimba and the Yokosuka Naval Base Denizens
- Mariko Ozawa--she works at JaBank AND as a "hostess" at Club Marimba. She is quite self-centered and believes that her mother died years ago; Mariko is shocked to discover that Setsuko is her mother. Mariko's father was a black American sailor, so she has a very exotic look, and she and Richard get to be quite chummy, which annoys Rei more often than not.
- Kiki--the Club Marimba owner who is Setsuko's sister and Mariko's aunt. She gives Rei a lot of information about Setsuko's background--Setsuko's father was an American whi has sent her money each month for years. Setsuko's, liaison with an American who fathered Mariko, and Kiki raises her as they saw Setsuko as the one more likely to make a "successful" marriage, but not with a child tagging along. Kiki seems to disapprove of these Japanese women foreign men relationships--she is wholly Japanese.
- Joe Roncoletti--an ex-patriot American who was stationed in Japan during the post war occupation, and now he has made a life for himself here. He seems attracted to Rei, but he has been roped into accompanying Marcelle Chapman to social events. He is NOT Mariko's father!
- Jimmy O'Donnell--a US Navy veteran, he knows a lot about those Japanese woman/American sailor relationships from the late 1940s through the 1950s. Does he hold the key to this mystery?
OK, let's get talking about these characters and determine WHO we suspect of being the murderer and WHY we think that!
Teacher Barb :)