HarperCollins, Sep 2001, 25.00, 310 pp.
When the invitation came from the Washington DC Museum of Asian Arts to provide a talk on Edo era kimonos, American expatriate Rei Shimura accepts. Not only is this a chance to speak on her favorite topic, the Tokyo antiques-buyer will visit her parents in California. As Rei transports the exhibit with her, she meets Hana Matsura and several other Japanese female tourists on the plane.
In Washington not long after the pan Pacific Ocean flight lands, an invaluable uninsured kimono is stolen from Rei and than someone murders Hana, who had Rei's passport at the time. With her former boyfriend lawyer Hugh Glendinning turning up and the police suspecting her, Rei begins making her own inquiries to prove her innocence at the same time she wonders why she cares so much for both Hugh and her wealthy Japanese boyfriend Takeo Kayama.
Though an engaging insightful tale, the latest Rei mystery spends a lot of paragraphs on sidebars such as how to use a kimono and tidbits on shoguns and samurai. For those readers who enjoy engaging asides this enhances the who-done-it. For those who prefer a concentrated amateur sleuth tale with a subplot on cross-cultural relationships, these cultural insights take away from the plot. Rei retains her spunk that the audience observed in THE FLOATING GIRL. Thus how much a reader relishes Sujata Massey's latest amateur sleuth novel depends on how much depth the audience desires for the subplots.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner