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Le shamisen en peau de serpent by Naomi…
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Le shamisen en peau de serpent

by Naomi Hirahara

Series: Mas Arai (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1096187,495 (3.58)2
From Summer of the Big Bachi to Gasa-Gasa Girl, Naomi Hirahara’s acclaimed novels have featured one of mystery fiction’s most unique heroes: Mas Arai, a curmudgeonly L.A. gardener, Hiroshima survivor, and inveterate gambler. Few things get Mas more excited than gambling, so when he hears about a $500,000 win–from a novelty slot machine!–he’s torn between admiration and derision. But the stakes are quickly raised when the winner, a friend of Mas’s pal G. I. Hasuike, is found stabbed to death just days later. The last thing Mas wants to do is stick his nose in someone else’s business, but at G.I.’s prodding he reluctantly agrees to follow the trail of a battered snakeskin shamisen (a traditional Okinawan musical instrument) left at the scene of the crime…and suddenly finds himself caught up in a dark mystery that reaches from the islands of Okinawa to the streets of L.A.–a world of heartbreaking memories, deception, and murder.… (more)
Member:miloshth
Title:Le shamisen en peau de serpent
Authors:Naomi Hirahara
Info:Éditions de l'Aube, 328 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:japon

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Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara

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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I have favorite first lines of a book, but this mystery has my favorite last lines. As he bites into Spam sushi "The salty firmness of the processed meat, sweet tang of the soft rice, and dryness of the nori all merged together in a great taste symphony, signaling that for a moment, everything was all right. " ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
The dialect spoken by Mas Arai, the unlikely detective in this novel and series, made me cringe--I never have liked any author's use of dialect, and in this case Arai is a striking enough character not to need the distinguishing feature of accented English. Apart from that, this is a fascinating novel made more meaningful for me by a week long visit to Okinawa two years ago, which gave me a little more context for the events Hirahara narrates in her Los Angeles setting. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
Japanese Americans are a very unique group. As far as I know they are the only people who have names for the different generations with in their group. The SOB (Straight off the boat) are the Issei, their children the second generation are the Nisei and their grandchildren or third generation are the Sansei. In addition to this they are one of the most resilient people who suffered great indignities and hardships in the course off their history in the Western Hemisphere. It was not until the 1950's that they were allowed to become naturalized American Citizens. Despite being interned during the war, losing the property and more they elected to look to the future rather than to the past.

There is a subgroup the Kibei Nisei who were born in America and raised in Japan. Mas Arai is one of these young men who eventually found himself deep in a subterranean train station in Hiroshima during 1945 and it had naturally marked his life in very significant ways. He is now a 70 year old part time gardener who is getting a reputation for solving murders and he gets involved in the death of a recent lottery winner. The situation is complex and reaches back to Okinowa and WWII, to the red scare in the 50's and brings up some of the bad things men do for what they think are good reasons.

There are a lot of characters to keep straight and convoluted motives but you won't regret reading this book, both for the history and the mystery.

( )
  Condorena | Apr 2, 2013 |
First class, nuanced characters playing out against wide ranging Southern California landscape that includes intimate historical background along the way. A believable plot that gives a look into the roots of an enduring part of a cultural microcosm and a glimpse of our own, larger and evolving culture. And in addition to those treasures it is suspenseful and humorous. An enjoyable read from an impressive author. ( )
  danhammang | Feb 10, 2013 |
2007 - Best Paperback Original
  jwcooper3 | Nov 15, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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From Summer of the Big Bachi to Gasa-Gasa Girl, Naomi Hirahara’s acclaimed novels have featured one of mystery fiction’s most unique heroes: Mas Arai, a curmudgeonly L.A. gardener, Hiroshima survivor, and inveterate gambler. Few things get Mas more excited than gambling, so when he hears about a $500,000 win–from a novelty slot machine!–he’s torn between admiration and derision. But the stakes are quickly raised when the winner, a friend of Mas’s pal G. I. Hasuike, is found stabbed to death just days later. The last thing Mas wants to do is stick his nose in someone else’s business, but at G.I.’s prodding he reluctantly agrees to follow the trail of a battered snakeskin shamisen (a traditional Okinawan musical instrument) left at the scene of the crime…and suddenly finds himself caught up in a dark mystery that reaches from the islands of Okinawa to the streets of L.A.–a world of heartbreaking memories, deception, and murder.

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