Cover image for The flower master
The flower master
Massey, Sujata.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
291 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Agatha Award-winning author Sujata Massey makes her hardcover debut with "The flower Master, the third entry in her wonderfully successful mystery series featuring a savvy young Japanese-American woman in modern-day Tokyo.

Rei Shimura, a twentysomething part-California girl, part-Japanese antiques dealer, can't quite find her place in Tokyo society. Lately Rei's love life has fallen off the radar screen, and despite all her efforts, her new business isn't doing much better.

At her aunt's insistence, Rei enrolls in a course in ikebana, the famous Japanese art of flower arranging. Little does she realize what a cutthroat class it will be; she's hardly completed a lesson before her instructor is murdered.

Rei is ready to track down the killer, but suddenly the case hits close to home. She and her aunt are battered by waves of police questioning, press attention, and mysterious warnings. Skeletons are rattling in her family's closet, and Rei must open the door to a dangerous secret.

Rei's in for the excitement she's been missing as her search for the truth takes her through twisting new corridors of intrigue, romance, and murder. It's up to Rei, the black sheep, to keep her family name clear-and her own life safe-from an enemy with an unknown agenda.

"The Flower Master is a scintillating mystery as fresh, cutting-edge, and uniquely appealing as its in-over-her-head-but-hanging-on sleuth.

Author Notes

Sujata Massey was born in Sussex, England in 1964 and graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1986.

She moved to Japan after marrying a Naval officer stationed there, taking a job as an English teacher.

Massey is the author of "The Salaryman's Wife," winner of the 1998 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and "Zen Attitude," mysteries set in contemporary Japan.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Seeing Tokyo through the eyes of amateur sleuth Rei Shimura, a young Japanese American antiques dealer, proves to be a totally captivating experience. Shimura's Japanese side allows her inside the heart of daily life in Tokyo, while her American side gives her enough distance from the world around her to respond with an openness that American readers will appreciate. She shares her discomfort with the classes she is taking at the famous Kayama School, renowned for its teaching of ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Her frustration increases when an unfriendly teacher is murdered and Rei's beloved Aunt Norie becomes a suspect; American-minded Rei is outraged at the cold shoulder given to Norie by the other women at the school. Although Massey points out Rei's troubles with fitting into Japanese culture, she also makes it clear that Rei loves Japan and her heritage. A unique plot, an exceptional protagonist, and some subtle cultural lessons are as beautifully arranged as a vase of cherry blossoms. --Jenny McLarin

Publisher's Weekly Review

A volatile yet harmonious mix of ancient Eastern traditions, modern American chutzpah and some inexplicable violence characterizes Massey's hardcover debut (after the mass market The Salaryman's Wife and Zen Attitude). Rei Shimura, 28 and a San Francisco transplant, is a Tokyo antiques buyer who is taking a flower-arranging course at a prestigious ikebana school run by the Kayama family. Of mixed American and Japanese parentage, Rei is constantly upbraided by her staid aunt Norie for her less-than-perfect conduct. But when an instructor at the school, Sakura, is killed, apparently with Norie's gardening shears, it takes Rei's Western impudence and grit and her entire store of charm to get to the bottom of the caseÄwhich grows more complex as Rei finds out about Mr. Kayama's unsavory past and her aunt's surprising relationship with him. What's more, Mr. Kayama's son, the heir apparent to the school's directorship, is inexplicably linked to an extremist environmental group trying to shut down the school. The narrative is enhanced greatly by the richly detailed Tokyo setting, from ancient tea houses to arcane rituals involving the cherry blossom festival. With such a gratifying background and such an appealing sleuth, it scarcely matters that an overly melodramatic finale mars the novel's resolution. Agents, Ellen Geiger and Dave Barbor at Curtis Brown. (May) FYI: The Salaryman's Wife won the 1998 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Masseys hardcover debut, following the Salarymans Wife (an Agatha winner for Best First Novel) and Zen Attitude, brings back Rei Shimura, a Japanese American antiques dealer and accidental sleuth living in Tokyo. Persuaded by her Aunt Norie to attend the prestigious Kayama school to study the Japanese art of flower arranging (ikebana), Rei becomes enmeshed in tracing the murderer of one of the schools head teachers. She finds numerous red herrings and distractions, including threatening notes and an attempt on her life, an environmental group protesting against the schools use of imported flowers treated with pesticides, and the attractive, billionaire heir to the Kayama holdings, but the ending is sadly murky. Nevertheless, the mystery is enhanced by Masseys familiarity with the cultural milieu and the etiquette conundrums that confront modern Japanese. For discerning mystery fans.Francine Fialkoff, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Enrolled in the Kayama School of Ikebana by her Aunt Norie, Rei Shimura, a Japanese-American antique dealer living in Japan, finds her instructor stabbed with the flower-arranging shears of her trade. Rei's natural inquisitiveness, accompanied by the worry that Norie may be the chief suspect, propels her to become active in the investigation. An arsenic-poisoning attempt, her growing infatuation with a wealthy young Japanese man, and her efforts to determine the true purpose of an anti-flower environmental-rights group lead Rei's determination to solve the crime, which has its origins well in the past and does involve her aunt. The writing is as serene and graceful as the flower arranging while the plot reflects the convolutions of Japanese manners and customs. The whodunit intrigue combined with the little tidbits of everyday Japanese life result in a rich, robust read.-Pam Spencer, Young Adult Literature Specialist, Virginia Beach, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.