In the process of solving a murder mystery, an elderly Japanese-American begins to rebuild the strained relationship with his only daughter.
Altadena, Calif., gardener Mas Arai, a widowed Hiroshima survivor, gets an unexpected call from daughter Mari asking for help—unexpected because they’ve never been close. The father is a loner obsessed with his plants, the gasa-gasa, a recent college graduate, perpetually restless and resentful of Mas’s seeming inattention. Mas’s culture shock after he flies across the country to Brooklyn’s trendy Park Slope neighborhood is eased by the chance to shepherd expansive California neighbor Tug Yamada, visiting New York in support of his daughter Joy’s art show opening. It’s only after Mas arrives that he learns that his new grandson, Takeo, was born with a case of jaundice that almost killed him. Mas also learns he’s been summoned mostly for his gardening expertise. Mari and Lloyd, her Caucasian husband, are deeply involved in a community project called the Waxley Garden, the brainchild of Lloyd’s boss, ostentatious Irish-Japanese entrepreneur Kazuhiko “Kazzy” Ouchi. On his first day at Waxley, Mas stumbles over Kazzy’s body. Though there’s a wide circle of suspects, police seem so fixated on Mari and Lloyd that unassuming Mas decides to conduct his own investigation.
Hirahara’s second series effort (Summer of the Big Bachi, 2004) brings heart and elegance to a nifty whodunit.