Imperfect Strangers by Lea O'Harra

Imperfect Strangers

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President Nomura, head of a small university in Kyushu, the westernmost island of Japan, is found with his throat slit in his office; Chief Inspector Inoue of the local police, learns that the victim had many enemies and few friends. Inoue uncovers a web of deceit and self-deception, with nearly everyone involved harboring his own secrets and lies. To find Nomura’s killer, Inoue realises he must take into account issues festering in modern-day Japanese society. He faces his greatest challenge, risking professional ruin and personal disgrace, in his race to solve the case.

About the Book

Imperfect Strangers is a crime fiction novel set in present-day Japan. The president of a small private university in a rural southern town is found in his office on campus one bright July day, his throat slit. Chief Inspector Inoue of the local police force investigates, finding that the victim, Professor Masaki Nomura, had many enemies and few friends.

The novel is a dissection of modern Japan as well as a murder mystery. It touches upon such topical subjects as the growing popularity of international marriage in what has traditionally been a homogeneous society, the Korean fingerprinting issue, gender discrimination in the workplace and at home, tensions between the general populace and far right, supposedly patriotic elements, and Japan’s demographic crisis precipitated by an aging population and a shrinking birthrate.

It is a whydunnit as much as a whodunnit.


A huge buzzing bluebottle made lazy circles over Nomura’s head. Its loud humming as it swooped around made Andrew wonder if it had cast a spell on his boss. He peered at Nomura’s face. A trickle of blood oozed from his mouth into his pointed beard. He leaned closer and recoiled. Nomura’s thin lips, usually pursed in righteous anger, were mimicked by a second, larger and more voluptuous mouth below them. It was a deep cut across Nomura’s throat – open, red and hungry.” PAGE 35


Say ‘hello’ – or ‘hajimemashite’ – to your new favourite mystery novelist. With her deep knowledge of Japanese culture, superb writing, and sensitivity to human foibles, O’Harra has crafted a cross-cultural whodunnit sure to please Japanophiles and mystery lovers alike. This is a classy and impressive debut.” Suzanne Kamata, author of Losing Kei and editor of The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan.

Imperfect Strangers is a novel that probes the society in which its characters live. As such I commend it highly and wish it well on its voyage across the choppy seas of international crime fiction.” Paul Johnston, author of the Alex Mavros series.

Book Information

Imperfect Strangers, Lea O'Harra
Online special: $23.00 NZ
Postage: NZ $4; Australia $8; Rest of World $18 (NZD)
ISBN: 978-0-473-33326-3
Crime; Japan
Chief Inspector Inoue investigates the murder of the president of a university in a rural Japan town.
Published September, 2015
Paperback, perfect binding
Black/white illustrations (6)
Introduction by Paul Johnston
Size:  21 cms by 15 cms
Pages: 244, including Glossary
Weight:  365 gms