From the time she was a child, Mas Arai's daughter, Mari, was completely gasa-gasa-never sitting still, always on the go, getting into everything. And Mas, busy tending lawns, gambling, and struggling to put his Hiroshima past behind him, never had much time for the family he was trying to support. For years now, his resentful daughter has lived a continent away in New York City, and had a life he knew little about. But an anxious phone call from Mari asking for his help plunges the usually obstinate Mas into a series of startling situations from maneuvering in an unfamiliar city to making nice with his tall, blond son-in-law, Lloyd, to taking care of a sickly child...to finding a dead body in the rubble of a former koi pond. The victim was Kazzy Ouchi, a half-Japanese millionaire who also happened to be Mari and Lloyd's boss. Stumbling onto the scene, Mas sees more amiss than the detectives do, but his instinct is to keep his mouth shut.
If not as flawless as Nirahara's debut, Summer of the Big Bachi (2004), the second outing for Japanese-American Mas Harai-Hiroshima survivor, Californian, gardener and sleuth-offers many of the same felicities. Mas's estranged daughter, Mari, whom he has described since babyhood as gasa-gasa (constantly moving), invites him to New York City, where everyone seems to be gasa-gasa. Son-in-law Lloyd, also a gardener, has requested Mas's help in restoring a traditional Japanese garden attached to a mansion in Brooklyn's Park Slope. The father of the owner, tycoon Kazzy Ouchi, was the original owner's gardener, and Ouchi's daughter now oversees the development of the mansion into a museum about the Japanese in New York. Vandalism, theft and neighborhood opposition already threaten the project, but it hits a really big snag when Mas discovers Ouchi's corpse in the dry koi pond. Mas and old friend Tug Yamada begin an investigation that leads to a much sought after Japanese diary recording the sordid history of the mansion's early tenants. The endearing, quietly dignified Mas, supported by a cast of spirited New Yorkers, as well as the distinctive Japanese-flavored prose, make this a memorable read. Agent, Sonia Pabley. (Mar. 29) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 28, 2005
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Excerpt from Gasa-Gasa Girl by Naomi Hirahara
To go far from the noise of civilization, to live the simple country life and breathe deeply of pure air--that is the cleanser of life.
New York City, August 1, 1915
Mas knew that New York City wasn't for him as soon as he saw that its gardens were under lock and key. Even in the best neighborhoods in Beverly Hills or San Marino back in Southern California, lawns lay open like luxurious carpets to the edges of sidewalks, beckoning guests and the glances of envious passersby. Of course, back home there were also visual threats and warnings--the blue and yellow Armed Response signs on metal stakes. But it was one thing to pierce grass with a sign, and quite another to put a garden behind bars.
"It's called a community garden," Tug Yamada explained. "Everyone pitches in to make it green."
They were stuck in traffic on Flatbush Avenue. Tug had picked Mas up in a white Mercury rental car, a pearl amid the black Town Cars that had circled JFK Airport. Mas could always count on Tug to help him in a pinch. But then again, Mas guessed that Tug was behind this recent turn of events. It would take an outside force--specifically a six-foot Nisei, a second-generation Japanese American--to push Mas's daughter, Mari, to place a call from Brooklyn to his home in Altadena.