The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis
Strictly speaking, this book was NOT next on my TBR pile. However, when it arrived, I read the first couple of pages – something I do so that I know what I’ll be in store for when that book’s turn comes around.
Only I couldn’t put it down.
This is neat and assured crime writing from a debut author well in control of characterisation, scene-setting and plot lines. The writing is deft and impossible to resist.
The setting, in Tokyo, gives us a more restrained palette in a highly structured society where self-control is one of the highest virtues. There is no gratuitous gore, which pleases me. This book is for readers who like intelligent crime fiction. It is not a blood-fest. (Yay!) There is a rather creepy clown doll though, so be warned 🙂
The various aspects of Japanese society were used in an interesting and informative way without any heavy-handed statements. It was a pleasure to learn about the stratification of society, its undercurrents and taboos.
A highlight of the novel is the use of quite a few of the great Japanese tourist sites in the plot, so that the reader can benefit from descriptions of magnificent places like Mt Fuji. The murders occur during the Cherry Blossom Festival, so flowers abound.
I very much enjoyed the structure of this thriller, with its three alternative points of view: the English journalist working in Japan; the Japanese detective; and the nerdy killer. The tension built solidly to an ending that was satisfying and allows for future development (killer last line!)
The chapters are short and tense, which means that it’s SO hard to resist reading ‘just one more’!
In terms of suspense, this is a slightly different set-up, because we meet the killer in the opening pages, and the police and the reporter also know who he is fairly early. So it’s not a ‘whodunit’ so much as a great chase thriller – can the killer be stopped before they kill again?
My thanks to Agora Books for a review copy. This is my honest review and – honestly – I will read whatever JJ Ellis publishes next!
I do hope there is more in the pipeline for new crime duo Holly Blain and Tetsu Tanaka.