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.