In Japanese culture, shibai means "drama," or "play," but in Hawaiian slang it means "smokescreen," "bullshit," "gaslighting." In this uncategorizable work, Don Mitchell weaves together the brutal 1969 murder of his friend, Harvard graduate student Jane Britton, with harassment by law enforcement and the media, the language and culture of the Nagovisi people of Bougainville, the Big Island of Hawai'i and the high barrens of its dormant volcano Mauna Kea, ultra running and walking, and the New York milieus of Buffalo and Ithaca. The unforgettable Jane Britton threads through the book, along with one of the suspects, the State Police detective who eventually solved the case, and Becky Cooper, an investigative journalist in whose book about Jane's murder Mitchell is a continuing presence. Addressing himself in the second person, Mitchell explores how memory and meaning shapeshift, the way facts can shatter long-held perceptions about one’s self and others, and how love and connection transcend time and culture. Mitchell creates a fascinating meld of fiction and nonfiction, past and present, speculation and discovery that excavates layers of truth, of error . . . and of shibai.
"Gritty investigative reportage becomes page-turning fiction in Don Mitchell's capable hands. Based on a real life and long unsolved killing that the author himself was for a time considered a suspect in, Shibai: Remembering the Jane Britton Murder is a breathless, globe-spanning mystery that also doubles as both a love story and a fascinating anthropological investigation into the human heart and mind. Fans of everyone from James Ellroy to Bill Bryson should race out to get themselves a copy of this terrific book."