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.
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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.
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 . . .
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