Those of us who have read the wonderful Rei Shimura series from its inception have followed with great interest her adventures in Japan. Half Japanese, half American, Rei fits completely into neither culture, which is the main reason for her enormous charm. But in the last book or two, she is in the United States, and I hope this isn't forever.
Mindful of spoilers, I won't tell those who have not read the entire series the story of Rei's departure from Japan. It is mentioned in this book, but only in passing. Rei now lives in Washington, DC, with her hunky fiance, Scottish lawyer Hugh Glendenning. At the beginning of this book, they are planning their wedding, and as always, Rei is reluctant to commit (a trait that becomes annoying for the very first time, at least to me, in this installment).
A struggling antiques dealer, Rei is thrilled when she gets a commission to decorate an up-and-coming Japanese restaurant newly purchased by a trendy DC restauranteur. But as she becomes involved with the kitchen help, the nasty but interesting hostess Andrea, and a cast of other characters, Rei once again switches from onlooker to sleuth. Somebody kidnaps her wealthy cousin on the eve of the restaurant's gala opening, and the plot thickens from there.
Rei's delicious Aunt Norrie is in this book, fresh from Japan, and a welcome reminder of Rei's background--like a delicate spice in a Japanese soup. And Rei is her own difficult self, with the old push-pull of her traditional ways and her ultra modern self. But some of the piquancy of the earlier novels has been lost in the all-American venue, and I miss it.
I would never miss one of Sujata Massey's novels, and I eagerly look forward to the next one, but like other reviewers, I hope that she allows Rei and Hugh to go back to Japan--at least for the next few books!