Fate! It can stab you in the back any time, upsetting the most carefully thought out activities. Fate doesn't care what the upshot is.
An unidentified man wears a red scarf and disguised as a woman has died after being hit by a van when crossing a road. The hospital is waiting for his family to claim for his body. However, as time passes by, the body remains unidentified. Meanwhile, a woman who had dressed him as a woman has waited for his return for seven years. And she is still waiting alone in 'The K Apartments for Ladies'.
Then, flashback seven years to the woman and her partner in crime dressed in woman's clothes, burying a child's body in an unused communal bath beneath the building. A second flashback tells of the kidnapping of four-year-old George Kraft, son of an American army officer and his Japanese wife.
The building has one hundred and fifty rooms in the building. The master key which meant for the use of the wardens can open every room in the building has been missing for the last six months. All the women who have lived alone for so long in these apartments have their secrets. And now they are anxious and worried that someone unknown is free to pry into them.
I never expect the entire story will contain different sub-stories about the occupants in the building and the connections between the master key and their secrets. Ironically, the master key has unlocked their secrets to us, and we are following the master key from one place to another.
I was slightly lost with the writing style as it doesn't create a strong connection to link all the secrets to lead us to the main story. The story started with a child kidnapping, and as I continued reading it, I have forgotten about it until towards the end. The individual stories were quirky but interesting. I guess any lonely person will do quirky stuff to pass their time. I felt the ending seems unconvincing to bring all the stories to solve the case. The entire story appears jumpy, but at the same time, there is a linkage among all the occupants' secrets with the master key. The feeling after reading this book is like 'I understand what is going on, but.....do I really understand?'
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: The Master Key by Masako Togawa.