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Publisher's Summary

In the foothills of Pasadena, Mas Arai is just another Japanese-American gardener, his lawnmower blades clean and sharp, his truck carefully tuned. But while Mas keeps lawns neatly trimmed, his own life has gone to seed. His wife is dead. And his livelihood is falling into the hands of the men he once hired by the day. For Mas, a life of sin is catching up to him. And now bachi - the spirit of retribution - is knocking on his door. It begins when a stranger comes around, asking questions about a nurseryman who once lived in Hiroshima, a man known as Joji Haneda.

By the end of the summer, Joji will be dead, and Mas' own life will be in danger. For while Mas was building a life on the edge of the American dream, he has kept powerful secrets: about three friends long ago, about two lives entwined, and about what really happened when the bomb fell on Hiroshima in August 1945. A spellbinding mystery played out from war-torn Japan to the rich tidewaters of LA's multicultural landscape, this stunning debut novel weaves a powerful tale of family, loyalty, and the price of both survival and forgiveness.

©2004 Naomi Hirahara (P)2015 Audible Inc.

What listeners say about Summer of the Big Bachi

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A mystery with its roots in WWII

Down and out Japanese American gardener Mas Arai becomes a reluctant detective when the grandson of an old friend from Japan asks for help in tracking down his grand-uncle who disappeared after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. But now, a man living in Los Angeles has come forward claiming to be the missing man. But, Mas has secrets going back to the War that he does not want revealed as well and those secrets are coming back to bite.

The author has written several nonfiction books about Japanese Americans in California. Her deep knowledge and insight suffused this mystery with authenticity. This is the first book of a series which I hope to read more of.

2 people found this helpful

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Transported into the Japanese American culture

i loved the story of Mas Aria and the hidden culture of Japanese immigrants in Los Angeles after the war. i really gelt a part of their experience through the use of their dialect.

1 person found this helpful

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deeply wonderful. sad, happy, fulfilling

this is the way to understand history, and particularly the history of resilience. Very inspiring and moving.

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Grows on you

I found it hard to stay focused initially. There are a lot of names and characters, and because I have no background in Japanese at all, it was hard to keep track while listening. It would be easier if reading, but I did eventually figure it out. I also didn't like the main character at first, but I think you are not supposed to. He definitely grows on you. Loved that it took place right near my hometown--Pasadena.

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Great atmosphere, setting but weak story

I loved all the characters and their houses and their lives and what they ate and drank and their cars and how they talked to one another. Like Mas Arai, I'm Japanese American and I felt like I was jumping back into the world of my childhood. If only the story were stronger!

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bleak

This is a good book, and it makes me want to read ones earlier in the series. Lots of great history of the Japanese in America, incarceration, marginailization, garden-making, Nissei, Issie, Kibei and intergenerational shifts and conflicts, wrapped in a compelling mystery . . . . But the book is relentlessly bleak. The detective's life has sunk past noir into irredeemable despair. It was hard to continue listening when it seemed nothing good could come of anything. I persevered because I'm interested, but it was in spite of the protagonist and his existential angst. I have heard that earlier episodes are far less bleak, so I'm going to check them out . . .

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Andrew Stonehouse
  • Andrew Stonehouse
  • 06-25-19

A bit uneventful.

Excellent narrantion. And a reasonable story. I have to say the plot was a bit lacking. I think the payoff or revelation isn't teally worth the buildup. I was still interested enough to finish all be it after a hiatus.