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5.0 out of 5 starsWhat friends are for!
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2016
This keeps the outstanding record of the Mas Arai series going, with a focus on fellow Hiroshima survivor Haruo and the world of Japanese wedding dolls. Naomi Hirahara has such a fine touch in combining a respect and passion for Japanese and southern California culture and history while sustaining several plot lines to keep the reader engaged and wanting to read another of her works. It seemed a bit slow at the beginning with Haruo's fiancee Spoon and her family playing a major and surprisingly adversarial stance, but eventually the picture clarifies and Mas displays some of his most ingenious detective work in bringing it to a great conclusion. I especially like her sensitivity to her characters and their surroundings and a clear love of the texture of Japanese-American values and yet a recognition of its challenges for even insiders to accept. Very entertaining read, leaving one to think about many of its lessons well after the conclusion.
I really enjoy the Mas Arai mysteries. I love the way he talks, I love the Los Angeles settings. I like to hear about his clients, the continual decline of his business. Him trying to figure out what he will do with his life when he has no work left. His difficult relationship with his daughter. His regrets about his life so far. His potential love interest. This whole world of gardeners that I knew nothing about when I began reading the books 5 or so years ago. Interwoven with all of this is a mystery. This paticular mystery was a very good until the last chapter or two. I found the the resolution somewhat implausible with a couple of loose ends. But I would still recommend it because I think Naomi Hirahara is an excellent writer and right now her series excels in character development. I can't wait for the next book which, based on some peripheral scenes in this book, promises some exciting developments of a personal nature for Mas Arai.
All of Hirahara's books are well done. The Mas Arai Series is fun. I started reading in the middle of the series with no problem and worked both ways to catch up. Her character, Mas, has led an interesting life, connecting mid-century American politics with today's Los Angeles.
Naomi Hirahara's mysteries are engrossing and her characters are complex, yet convincing. I find her books not only stimulating and entertaining; each teaches about history and culture beyond what I would find in nonfiction