With priceless Edo-period kimonos on loan from the Morioka Museum strapped into the plane seat next to her, American-born, Tokyo-based antiques-buyer Rei Shimura is on her way to the Museum of Asian Arts, in Washington, D.C., to fill in as the exhibit’s guest lecturer—and safely courier the kimonos. Seated to the other side of her is Hana Matsura, engaged but hoping for one last fling before settling down to an arranged marriage. Both will be staying at the slightly déclassé Washington Suites. Well, maybe more than slightly, since soon after they check in, Hana disappears, then turns up dead in a dumpster, and one of the valuable kimonos is stolen from Rei’s hotel room. Why was that kimono, added at the last minute and not insured, the only one taken? Curator Allison Powell doesn’t know, but Rei is determined to find out—though she barely has time for detective work when she’s juggling two boyfriends, wealthy Japanese playboy Takeo Kayama and sexy redheaded Scottish lawyer Hugh Glendinning, and dodging mysterious men wearing black, blue cars tailing her, her mother insisting on a shopping spree, and, ultimately, a knife-wielding smuggler in the deserted museum lobby.
Step-by-step instruction on how to don a kimono and its attendant paraphernalia, chatty digressions on shoguns and samurai, but mostly the problems inherent in cross-cultural romance, without the snap, crackle, and trendiness of The Floating Girl (2000) and its three forebears.