Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blood Hina, by Naomi Hirahara (hardcover, $24.99)

I read Naomi Hirahara's first book in the Mas Arai series, Summer of the Big Bachi, and enjoyed it. This book, Blood Hina, is the fourth. This isn't quite the surprise the first one was, but it was enjoyable as well. Hirahara nails the voice of an older Japanese man to a tee.

How do I know? I grew up in Hawaii. Many of my friends were Japanese – either Nisei (first generation born in the U.S.) or Sansei (second generation born in the U.S.) – and I can hear their relatives who emigrated from Japan in Hirahara's dialogue and descriptions.

Mas Arai is a survivor of Hiroshima. He lives in the Los Angeles area and works as a gardener. The Japanese gardener was a cliché in California, so this picture of Mas seems so real. He and his colleagues are victims of World War II in the sense that they belong neither to the culture of the U.S. nor that of Japan. Most of them can't speak English without an accent and don't really know Japanese that well. Each subsequent generation grows closer to the Western culture and further from their parents' beliefs. So it's with trepidation that Mas becomes involved in the problems of his friend Haruo who is about to marry a widow with a problem adult child.

When Haruo's wedding is called off and he disappears, it's up to Mas to find him. Haruo is accused by the widow's daughter of stealing a pair of expensive "hina," life-like Japanese dolls, from his former fiancée. The daughter is not exactly credible since has had an extensive history of drug abuse and seems to be taking advantage of her mother, with whom she lives. Nevertheless, no one is seriously looking for Haruo, until Mas begins his search. He uncovers something totally different about the family Haruo almost married into.

I was caught by surprise with the ending. It was not at all what I had expected. Most of the book travels at a slow pace, but the ending jumps up at you and barks. I liked that!

No comments:

Post a Comment