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By Sujata Massey

Harper Collins, May 1999, $24.00 ISBN: 0-06-019228-3

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

For those of you who have read the previous books in this series (The Salaryman's Wife and Zen Attitude), you will probably be ecstatic, as I was, to learn that the author has finally dumped the boring Scottish lawyer boyfriend!

Rei Shimura is half-American, half-Japanese (as opposed to say, someone who is Japanese American, but both parents are of Japanese ancestory). She lives in Tokyo and manages to eek out a living buying and selling Japanese antiques. She also manages to stumble across a crime or two as she moves about the city and countryside.

In THE FLOWER MASTER, Rei's aunt has signed her up for an advanced class in ikebana (the stylized Japanese art of flower arranging) and Rei is floundering a bit since she has no previous experience nor real interest in arranging flowers in the traditional Japanese style. On the other hand, her aunt thinks ikebana will lead to a suitable husband for Rei. What it does lead to is murder. And since her aunt is the most likely suspect, in the eyes of the police, how can Rei not poke her nose in where it's not wanted in an attempt to expose the real killer?

Ms. Massey manages to combine just enough Japanese culture with sleuthing to make reading about Rei's adventures exciting and educational. I thoroughly enjoy Rei's adventures and I can easily imagine myself on a crowded Tokyo street and spotting her as she jogs through the crush of people on her way to keep an appointment or tries to make it to ikebana class on time.

You don't have to speak the language or understand the customs, Rei (of course it's really the author) will see to it that she explains everything you need to know.

I just wish the author could write more Rei Shimura adventures...Say a book a month?

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