The Typhoon Lover Paperback – Aug 29 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In Agatha-winner Massey's winning eighth novel to feature Rei Shimura (after 2004's The Pearl Diver), State Department official Michael Hendricks recruits the Japanese-American antiques dealer, who's just turned 30 and is feeling ambivalent about still being single, to locate an ancient ibex ewer that disappeared from a Baghdad museum and is believed to be in the possession of Japanese collector Takeo Kayama, an ex-boyfriend of Rei's. After arriving in Japan just hours ahead of a typhoon that paralyzes the transportation system, Rei contacts her aunt Norie, a teacher at Takeo's flower arranging school, who reveals to her that Takeo's engaged to be married. Only Rei would think the typhoon a perfect cover for checking Takeo's summerhouse for the stolen ewer, and the outcome disastrously affects all concerned. Massey gleefully contrasts the young, bizarrely garbed generation, including Rei's own cousin and Takeo's fiancée, with traditional Japanese society. Rei winds up with a badly bruised heart, but the ending hints at intriguing future possibilities.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Rei Shimura, the Japanese American heroine of Massey's series, is young, gorgeous, and talented. Luckily, she is also capable of making a really stupid blunder. If she was as perfect as her Japanese side wants to be, she'd be no fun at all. This time she falls into the arms of Takeo, her old lover, and in the process loses her longtime love, Hugh. Rei is reunited with Takeo when she leaves her home (and Hugh) in D.C. to return to Japan to complete an assignment for the Smithsonian. Acting as an undercover agent, Rei can't tell anyone the real reason for her trip: to search for a valuable ancient pitcher that was stolen from the national museum in Iraq. Takeo, who is about to consummate an arranged marriage, may have the piece in his country home. When Rei flees a dangerous typhoon in Tokyo to search for the pitcher, she finds Takeo instead. As usual, Massey is masterful at contrasting Japanese and American culture and customs, but Rei remains the glue that holds this delightful series together. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
When US intelligence suspect that Takeo Kayama, head of the Kayama School of Ikebana and Rei Shimura's former lover, may have bought an antique Mesopotamian ewer that was stolen during the latest gulf war, they decide to recruit Rei in order to discover how Takeo had acquired the piece. As a friend and former lover, the feeling is that Rei should be able to get the information without setting off too many alarm bells. And while Rei is not at all sure if she's cut out for this kind of cloak and dagger stuff, or even if she could persuade Takeo in take her into his confidence (much less talk to her since they did have a rather messy breakup), the lure of being able to return to Japan (Rei was deported from Japan in "Samurai's Daughter), proves too much for her. And in no time at all, Rei finds herself back in her beloved Japan, and trying to reconnect with a newly engaged Takeo, who would much rather keep Rei at arm's length. And while Rei was prepared for the fact that it would take a lot of hard work in order to reestablish their friendship, what she was not prepared for, she discovers to her horror, was the resurgence of some of her old feelings for Takeo, or how her flashly blundering about would lead to tragedy...
There were many things I liked about "The Typhoon Lover" -- like the fact that it took place mostly in Japan, and that it was a very well written, suspenseful, absorbing and totally riveting novel. However certain things did niggle at me: for example, I really had to suspend my disbelief in order to buy the notion that the US secret service's best bet to figuring out if Takeo was involved in buying stolen antiques was to bring Rei into the investigation. Surely must have been a better plan out there somewhere? I like the character, Rei Shimura, but her method of operation has always been to stumble about, rather flashily, until she arrives at the truth. Subtlety and discretion have never really been her strong points. And this was the woman that US intelligence thought perfect for this particular job? I also found that I was not really enjoying this new direction that the author was taking Rei in -- esp in regards to her relationship with Hugh (her on-and-off again boyfriend), after having gone through so much with Hugh, I was disappointed that Rei felt stifled by her relationship with him, and how she handled things here. But in spite of my growing frustration with Rei, I found that I simply had to read on in order to discover what would happen next. And this, in my opinion, was the real testament to Sujata Massey's brilliant writing skills -- that she had me absolutely riveted in spite of myself. Also brilliantly done, was how the authored portrayed the tense atmosphere as everyone was hunkering down to deal with the typhoon -- I really felt the cold, wet danger of it all. And as always, I enjoyed the author's portrayals of the current trends in Japan; and in this instance, Rei's feelings of confusion at realising that she may no longer fit in with the youth culture.
In all, "The Typhoon Lover" was a very enjoyable read. In spite of my complaints, at the heart of things, this series has not changed. Rei is still the flawed but stalwart character, who still passionately throws herself into whatever task she's doing. She may stumble about with two left feet, angering people and setting off alarm bells everywhere, but she's always determined to do the right thing and see justice done. That's the Rei Shimura that's won fans everywhere and the Rei Shimura that will always be at the heart of this series, in spite of whatever direction the author takes her heroine in.
Once in Japan, she re-unites with family and friends while working on her assigned task, only to find that things are never quite as you remember them. As the investigation intensifies, so does the weather. Rei fights bad guys, a typhoon and her conscience while searching for the stolen ibex.
Set in Washington D. C. and Japan, this novel manages to blend and contrast the flavors of both cultures very nicely. As Rei travels through both locales, she explores her feelings about her Asian-American lineage as she doesn't quite wholly fit into either place.
While I was reading this book, the remnants of hurricane Cindy were lashing against my window, adding a bit of atmospheric realism to the typhoon scenes in the book. I am also a native Washingtonian and enjoyed a virtual stroll through the downtown streets with Rei.
This was one of the most entertaining books that I have read in a while. I completely relaxed while reading it and soaked up the gentle atmosphere. Sujata Massey has a created a complex, enduring character in Rei Shimura. I look forward to reading more books by this author.
Rei travels to Japan, but starts her inquiries with her Aunt Norie, a teacher at Takeo's flower arranging school. She learns that Takeo is getting married soon to Erni, which shakes her a bit as she just turned dirty thirty and wonders what she could have done different though the government tossed her out of the country. When a typhoon hits Japan, Rei uses it as a cover to investigate Takeo's summerhouse though she also finds time to sleep with her former lover even as the case takes a bizarre spin towards Erni.
The investigation takes a back seat to the intriguing comparisons between the older traditional and younger colorful Japanese generations. For instance readers will enjoy westernized Rei with her conventional Aunt. The inquiry is deftly handled albeit secondary to the deep look into customs, but the apparent spin into Rei Shimura, CIA agent seems odd at least for now. Fans of this great mystery series will anxiously wait the next installment to see if the renegade antiques dealer actually makes the switch to I Spy.
We also get to spend time with Rei, a most enjoyable heroine. In fact a subplot of the book relates to Rei's up-and-down relationship with Hugh, her Scottish boyfriend and sometime fiancé. The opening scene actually telegraphs warnings about differences in values and Rei's readiness for more adventure.
As other reviews have noted, the whole plot hinges on an questionable assumption. Would a staid government agency recruit an impetuous, untrained amateur? Not likely, but I believe government agencies have recruited "sources" who deliver information to get criminal charges dropped or reduced. Rei had a powerful reason to cooperate, although she lost a lot and almost lost everything.
Unlike many writers of mystery series, Massey has resisted the temptation to create stand-alone volumes or start a new series. Instead, we get to know Rei better and we watch her grow in logical but sometimes surprising ways. Few other series characters are developed in such psychological depth; perhaps the closest is Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon. I wasn't at all surprised at her reaction to being back in Japan: it's very common among those who feel exiled.
And Massey knows how to pace, create atmosphere and maintain suspense. I never was tempted to skip her descriptions of setting, much less peek ahead to the ending.
Just one quibble. I realize "big" publishers no longer have minions to perform copy-editing chores, so in a few places we had grammatical and other bloopers. On page 39, for instance, a paragraph begins, "I scrambled into my Asics" and ends, "I gave up on finding shoes and went out in my slippers, throwing a raincoat over my pajamas."
Which was it? And was she really wearing pajamas to sleep with Hugh? That's a clue if I ever saw one.
But I'll take the quibbles along with the good stuff. Great book!