Snakeskin Shamisen

Snakeskin Shamisen 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 a

  • Title: Snakeskin Shamisen
  • Author: Naomi Hirahara
  • ISBN: 9780385339612
  • Page: 462
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 excited than gambling, so when he hears about a 500,000 win from a novelty slot machine he s torn between admiration and derFrom 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 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.

    One thought on “Snakeskin Shamisen”

    1. 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 195 [...]

    2. 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.

    3. When I went to the "Hello Kitty Friendship Festival" a couple of years ago I stopped by the "Spam Sushi" booth and wondered if anyone really ate those. Neatly contained, with Hello Kitty's face prominently displayed, I was tempted to learn how to make one and sample it. Later, when I was hungry, I went to the lobby any bought a "Pink's" hot dog instead. I guess I wasn't brave enough. In "Snakeskin Shamisen" by Naomi Hirahara, her lead character, an old Japanese gardener Mas Arai, isn't only cour [...]

    4. My delight with the Mas Arai series and my admiration for the skill of author Naomi Hirahara has grown with each of the three books thus far. In this superbly crafted mystery, we learn, along with Mas, about some aspects of the Japanese-American experience unique to that contingent from Okinawa – learning of its history within the Japanese Empire and the cultural ramifications in the Japanese-American community. At the conclusion of this book I wanted to give Mas a big congratulatory hug, thou [...]

    5. 3.5 stars. I rounded up because the writing is so good, but the hero's life seemed a bit grim, so that somewhat muted my enjoyment. (Tough grader here, plus my grading is a mix of personal enjoyment and writing, with sometimes one sometimes the other weighing more heavily in the grading.)This is one of my favorite types of mysteries, one that opens a lens into a different place, time, or culture than my own. Mas Arai is a Kibei, an American of Japanese descent who was born in America, but then w [...]

    6. #3 Mas Arai mystery set in LA. Mas, a seventy-something-year-old Japanese-American gardener who is also a Hiroshima bomb survivor, gets sucked into another mystery when a party he's coerced into attending by his friend GI Hasuike to celebrate the Vegas jackpot GI's friend Randy won sports an interesting ending--Randy being murdered in the parking lot, next to him a broken antique shamisen--an Okinawan musical instrument. Once again, history plays a role in the case, which Mas works on with Juani [...]

    7. I enjoy getting to know more about the characters in this mystery series, especially Mas Arai,survivor of the Atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.Snakesskin Shamisen takes place in L.A. where Mas has resided for many years. He is a self-employed gardener,essentially alone; his wife died of cancer and his married daughter lives in New York with her husband and toddler son. Somehow, Mas always gets involved in solving murders in the Japanese community. In Snakeskin Shamisen, a friend of Mas's lawyer hi [...]

    8. This is the right way to do it. Hirahara had me so invested in the characters and their lives that I kept forgetting about the mystery to be solved. More than the preceding books, Snakeskin Shamisen works to juxtapose WWII events with world conditions now, prompting some important questions. I love that, as with the other Mas Arai mysteries, understanding the past is intimately connected with both solving the mystery and bringing peace and resolution to people's lives. I am intrigued by the many [...]

    9. Mas Arai is one of the oldest amateur sleuths since Miss Marple, but he's very different. For one thing, he's a bit reluctant to investigate.He's not much of a talker, but he does think a lot, and we get to learn a lot about Japanese-American culture and mores. In this book, the third in the series but the first I've read, Mas gets involved with the Okinawan community in LA; although the Okinawans also speak Japanese, there is still lingering resentment over Japanese occupation of the Ryukyus ce [...]

    10. I wish I had partial points, because I liked this book a lot, although I don't often read mysteries and I thought the world described was written in a true and warm way that had all the best of the familiar and the novel. The mystery itself was more of a historical lesson (no spoiler here)however and as a history buff that was a plus for me. However for lovers of the genre mystery/suspense I suspect this is less of those than they are used to. Also less explicit than some of the most popular mys [...]

    11. Hirahara's protag, Mas Ari is a bit of a curmudgeon, but is really lovely, and loyal to his friends and his community. Humble and dissembling, Mas is observant and often funny without artifice. He's the perfect investigator. In this work, Hirahara addresses the wrongs done to the Okinawan people in WWII, the loss of property and esteem as Japanese-Americans were placed into US internment camps, and the heroism of those who forgave but do not forget. Wonderful imagery of 1950s Los Angeles too thr [...]

    12. More concerned with showcasing episodes of Japanese-American history than with coherent plotting, prone to weak metaphor, thick with hard-to-distinguish secondary characters -- and with a clumsy title to boot -- Snakeskin Shamisen is nevertheless a likeable piece of theme detective fiction. The scruffy old gardener Mas Arai is certainly an unusual hero. After reading S.S I can't decide if he actually DID anything to resolve the mysterious doings, or just happened to be schlepping around while ot [...]

    13. This is a great series & I love the main character, Mas Arai. I devoured this book in two days. I feel like I'm getting to hang out with my favorite uncle. The only thing I would ask the author to do is to add a small glossary in the book to remind the readers the difference between issei & nisei. She has one on her website but it would be nice to have a short one in the books too. The other Japanese words she uses are easily defined by the context.Oh - and the best part is Mas' new "fri [...]

    14. I found this book confusing. Maybe it was just me, but I couldn't keep the characters straight, and the fact that many had additional nicknames or aliases didn't help. I was hopelessly lost on the plot. I liked that the author tried to sprinkle in some japanese words, but to expect me to remember what the word meant 20 pages later when she used it again was asking too much of my feeble brain. I liked the glimpse into Japanese-American history, and into the unwritten rules by which those of Japan [...]

    15. As is the case with all the Mas Arai books so far, I really enjoyed this book. However, as far as being a murder mystery, this was one of the weakest of the series. To me, the murder plot was hard to follow, with too many characters involved, and kind of a weak conclusion. Interestingly, that does not distract from the rest of the story telling, which is delightful. Learning more about Mas' past, the Japanese/California culture, ash well as Okinawan history was fascinating.Definitely a good read [...]

    16. This mystery is beautifully written, and totally engaging. The protagonist is a Japanese-American gardener who survived Hiroshima and now lives in Los Angeles. The character is funny, smart, and very human. I read most of the book in two sittings The author's ample use of Japanese, as well as the Japanese names of principal characters proved challenging. That said, I am looking forward to reading more in this series.

    17. She will be at San Diego County Library Book Festival October 9th 2010 at Encinitas Branch Library. Mas Arai is a reluctant detective - a Japanese American gardner whose parents sent him to Japan right before WWII - he was a Hiroshima survivor - returned to Los Angeles. He doesn't like to poke his nose into other peoples business at all - therefore people always tell him more than he wants to know. I can't wait to read more in the series

    18. I admire a man that just won't give up, supports his friends, and insists on doing what is morally right, which defines Mas. That actually overcomes my aversion to his fixation on Spam. Lots of interacting mysteries in this novel, which involve problems going back to WWII, identity theft, music, and national treasures. I would recommend reading the series in order, especially if you don't have much knowledge of Japanese-American history,

    19. While I'm not immediately compelled to read the other Mas Arai mysteries, Snakeskin Shamisen was a quick, satisfying read. Mas Arai is a wonderfully believable amateur detective - a reticient, semi-retired Japanese American kibei gardener living in Los Angeles. This particular Mas Arai mystery ties in Okinawan and Japanese Peruvian history, which tickled my spot Asian American Studies.

    20. This Mas Arai mystery was "cute" in that I could totally envision the cuisine the author starts off describing in the book and the venue especially if you are a resident of torrance, CA. Gives you an educational glimpse into the world of Okinawan culture. I really liked all three Mas Arai mystery as each one was unique and didn't seem at all recycled or cliched. Looking forward to the next one.

    21. 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. "

    22. 2007 - Best Paperback Original - it's a mystery. Well, yes that is the genre, but it is a mystery how this copped an Edgar in 2007. The characters did nothing for me and the protagonist's minimal dialog is written attempting to capture an asian/english dialect. That's something they told us not to do in Composition 101. After 75 pages I was struggling to maintain interest.

    23. Very touching story to me as I have known people from this generation and people who were in the "camps". Wile a good mystery, Ms Hirahara really captures the cultural feel of the people. Of the 3 I've read, this one was more than a mystery, I enjoyed the story of a time and the lives of those who experienced it.

    24. I've been wanting to read this book for some time. Naomi Hirahara has not only written a good mystery, but she's created a unique character in semi-retired gardener Mas Arai. She introduces the reader to many aspects of Japanese life, specifically in the Los Angeles area, that most hakujin (whites) would not be familiar with, from WWII internment camps to Spam musubi. Domo arigato, Ms. Hirahara!

    25. I guess I like these plots to be set in L.A. I liked the complexity of the plot of this novel, as well as the ethnic backstory. Mas and his friends are prickly, but likable, and totally dedicated to taking care of each other. Also, the female characters are great!

    26. The more of this series I read, the more I like Mas Arai and his eclectic group of friends. The mysteries are crucial to the story and at the same time almost irrelevant. I am drawn into another, highly enjoyable, world by this series.

    27. I finally got hold of this one after finishing all of the others in the series. Found this one to be the least interesting of the lot, and lost interest. Surprisingly, didn't finish it Too bad, because I wanted to like it too.

    28. Mas Arai has slowly grown on me. This entry in the series may be my favorite so far, and I loved the details about Okinawan culture.

    29. I love the main character. A real person instead of a stock character. I also love the history and cultural details.

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