Excellent debut…..4.5 stars!

  • Book: The Flower Arranger
  • Location: Iriomote Island, Tokyo
  • Author: J J Ellis

Review Author: MiriamSmith



“The Flower Arranger” is J.J. Ellis’ debut novel and is an international crime thriller set in Japan. You can just tell that the passion the author has written about Japan and it’s people is based on first hand experience and along with a very entertaining and enjoyable crime plot, this is an exceedingly atmospheric thriller, that is exceptional for a first time novel.
“Tōkei Shimbun reporter, Holly Blain wants to cover real news. The entertainment beat, pop stars and teen trends was not why she moved to Tokyo. When she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka, head of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-jin unit, it might just be her big break. However, Tanaka is hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation. But when young women keep disappearing, Tanaka is given no choice. He and Blain must trust each other if they are to stop a tormented killer from bringing his twisted plan to its shocking conclusion.”
You really don’t need to know anything about Japan to understand or enjoy this story. The author has included so many easy to follow cultural examples and values relating to Japan that I felt like I was in the Asian country with Holly and Tenaka and the pretty cherry blossom tree lined roads. I found it all very informative and learned a great deal, including about the Otaku men, the seasons of the Sakura (the cherry blossom), geisha girls, salarymen and so much more.
I really enjoyed the premise of a headstrong European reporter desperate to cover the crime desk and a detective who is very likeable and a pleasure to read about. Their relationship changed daily and they made up a really endearing partnership. Tanaka reminded me a lot of another international detective, Michael Stanley’s, South African based Detective Kubu who also is a dedicated family man, morally strong and determined to seek justice.
Once I got the Japanese pronunciation of the people and the local place names correct in my head, the story flowed easily and I found it very hard to put down. “The Flower Arranger” is original, descriptive, thrilling and thoroughly entertaining and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
I’d love to read more about Holly and Inspector Tanaka in further stories, especially Holly’s time before she moved to Tokyo, so I do hope the author writes more because I personally will definitely be reading them.

4.5 stars

Thank you to TripFiction for my copy of the book which I won in their recent competition.

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

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Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

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Entries close 6th November 2021