The Flower Master Mass Market Paperback – Mar 16 2000
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Rei Shimura, a twentysomething Japanese American antiques dealer, returns for a third outing in Sujata Massey's series set in Japan (Zen Attitude, The Salaryman's Wife). In The Flower Master, Rei's former boyfriend has left Japan, and her antiques business is only slightly more successful than her love life. Then she's dragooned by her aunt Norie into enrolling at a famous Tokyo ikebana school. Rei's not a natural at the ancient art of flower arranging, but she has a talent for sleuthing, which comes in handy when the head teacher at the Kayama School is found dead--with a pair of flower shears exactly like the ones Norie gave her lodged in her neck.
Rei's efforts to find the killer and unravel the secrets entwining her Tokyo family with the Kayamas move the action along, but the real mystery is whether the budding romance between the California girl who can't quite find her place in the tradition-bound society of modern Japan and the handsome environmental activist slated to take over as iemoto (headmaster) of the school will flower into lasting love. Intrigue and multiple murders spice the romance, along with a fascinating explication of ikebana's enduring history. Rei is a lively protagonist who brings the reader along for an entertaining and subtle lesson in Japanese culture as well as in the dangers involved in digging up buried family skeletons. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
A volatile yet harmonious mix of ancient Eastern traditions, modern American chutzpah and some inexplicable violence characterizes Massey's hardcover debut (after the mass market The Salaryman's Wife and Zen Attitude). Rei Shimura, 28 and a San Francisco transplant, is a Tokyo antiques buyer who is taking a flower-arranging course at a prestigious ikebana school run by the Kayama family. Of mixed American and Japanese parentage, Rei is constantly upbraided by her staid aunt Norie for her less-than-perfect conduct. But when an instructor at the school, Sakura, is killed, apparently with Norie's gardening shears, it takes Rei's Western impudence and grit and her entire store of charm to get to the bottom of the caseAwhich grows more complex as Rei finds out about Mr. Kayama's unsavory past and her aunt's surprising relationship with him. What's more, Mr. Kayama's son, the heir apparent to the school's directorship, is inexplicably linked to an extremist environmental group trying to shut down the school. The narrative is enhanced greatly by the richly detailed Tokyo setting, from ancient tea houses to arcane rituals involving the cherry blossom festival. With such a gratifying background and such an appealing sleuth, it scarcely matters that an overly melodramatic finale mars the novel's resolution. Agents, Ellen Geiger and Dave Barbor at Curtis Brown. (May) FYI: The Salaryman's Wife won the 1998 Agatha Award for Best First Novel.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The descriptions of life in Japan, the characters, the situations are all beautifully rendered in words and the book is a fantastic read. Except...
I really felt a bit disappointed by the ending. While I don't turn reading a mystery into a contest, I do like to match my wits against the writer - as many readers do. In this book, however, the identity of the murderer comes out of nowhere. There are no clues dropped, no subtle hints about their personality or motives, nothing that could make the reader even subconciously place this person in the list of suspects. And in the end the motive that is given to the killer is singularly confusing and contradictory. The killer torments one woman for years because of a perceived slight against an august family, yet turns around and steals from that same family in order to raise money. Why they want the money is never disclosed, and why they would steal from people they appear to honor and hold in high esteem is confusing.
I would have liked a crisper and better defined ending, though I did enjoy the book :)
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!
Thus, Rei is drawn into all the politics and maneuverings surrounding the next-likely successor to run the family-owned school. There's plenty of murder and intrigue afoot, and Rei has another potential boyfriend. He happens to be a son of the family running the school, and he's an enviromentalist as well. Prestige and power await the next director, if he/she lives long enough to accept the job. Rei finds out there's more to the world of ikebana than scissors and beautiful flowers.
Ms. Massey does a superb job of educating the reader on the intricacies of the art of ikebana, while spinning a great mystery. She's definitely developing a sure hand with her characters and the plotlines. Many congratulations on a job well done!
The mystery was not as well done. It was diffused by the romance, the family, the shop-till-you-drop (dare I say airhead?) personality of Rei. She put forth some offbeat potential villains, but didn't put in the effort to make this a rousing whodunit. By the time Rei solves the mystery, I didn't much care, and I don't think she did either.
Most recent customer reviews
In this, the third book in the Rei Shimura series that began with THE SALARYMAN'S WIFE, we attend ikebana (flower arranging) classes with Rei and her aunt and meet a lot of... Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2003 by MLPlayfair
I have read all of Sujata Massey's books, and enjoyed each one. She really knows how to tell a story. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2001 by Deborah Kemp
This is the second Rei Shimura story I have read; "Zen Attitude" was the introduction to this very fine series. Read morePublished on Aug. 25 2001 by C. H. Backus
I really enjoyed this book. rarely does a book captivate me so much that i constantly think about the next time i'll have a chance to read it. Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2000 by susan
Sujata Massey keeps getting better! I thought ZEN ATTITUDE(#2 in the series) was a wonderful read, THE SALARYMAN'S WIFE (#1) less good, and this one, #3, is the best yet. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2000 by marzipan
Massey scores another hit with me with this book. I was drawn to her first novel, "The Salaryman's Wife" when I was stationed in Bosnia. Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2000 by Double J
Massey isn't Mosely, but her books are great in a different way. Massey books are just plain fun. Her books are perfect for plane rides, the beach, or anywhere you just want an... Read morePublished on Aug. 9 2000
This is the continuing story of Rei Shimura, a Japanese/American antiques dealer who immigrated to Japan to work and who struggles daily with the written language, as well as the... Read morePublished on July 19 2000 by Deborah Burnett