I keep trying to find an adjective that appropriately describes Sujata Massey's piquant and wonderful Rei Shimura series. With this third, and best, addition to the series, I think I have found one, although it hardly describes the talent of the writer: delicate.
Exquisite delicacy, akin to the ikebana arrangements described in this book, is the hallmark of Massey's wonderful mysteries. Imagine murder, mayhem, forensics, and all the rest of the usual crime-novel/mystery genre told in a setting of kimono, cherry blossoms, the aforementioned ikebana and the constant east-west conflict of the heroine, and you have a slight idea of just how different these books are--and just how delightful.
This story finds half Japanese-half American Rei Shimura thriving as an antiques dealer, despite the end of her tumultuous relationship with Scotsman Hugh Glendinning. Dragged to her aunt's ikebana school for lessons (as part of her aunt's ongoing project--making Rei comfortable with her Japanese side), Rei soon stumbles on a murder. And not just any murder. This is as bloody as any samurai killing--but in place of the sword, the fatal weapon is a pair of ikebana scissors. Who among the genteel, proper women at the school could have committed such an atrocity? And most of all, why?
As Rei sets out to solve the mystery, she is threatened by all sorts of hostile influences, from a radical pro-environmentalist organization to a sinister and unseen writer of threatening haiku--to her own treacherous heart, as she finds herself drawn to the handsome son of the school's chairman.
It all makes for a fascinating and utterly wonderful mystery. This is a series not to be missed!