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Women have made significant inroads towards infiltrating Japan’s patriarchal society, but their progress is still stymied by traditional views. With a long career as a university lecturer in Shikoku, Lea O’Harra draws on her own experiences to examine gender roles in provincial Japan in this, her third novel in the “Inspector Inoue mystery series.”

The story opens with the brutal murder of a young woman, and the bluff yet goodhearted Inoue is charged with tracking down the assailant. The setting is the fictional town of Fujikawa in Kyushu, a region known for being particularly conservative. Many of the male characters are less than sympathetic, ranging from a sadistic wife beater to a self-satisfied foreign teacher who parades around his Japanese trophy wife.

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