Books & Conversations
Strawberry Yellow by Naomi HiraharaSaturday, March 30, 2013
Mas Arai is a taciturn, sometimes even curmudgeonly retired gardener with a past. Born in Watsonville in California’s strawberry country, he was raised in Hiroshima, Japan, and as a teenager survived the 1945 A-bomb. After the war, he returned to Watsonville to start over, finding shelter with cousins and work in the strawberry fields.
Now, after moving to Altadena and spending a lifetime as a gardener, Mas returns to Watsonville for the funeral of his second cousin Shug Arai, who’d become a leader in the strawberry-growing world. In no time at all, Mas finds himself at the scene of a murder, and there are Arais involved every which way. Plus he has suspicions that there might have been more behind Shug’s death than a simple heart attack. And is the terrible blight called Strawberry Yellow that’s threatening the crops somehow involved?
In the fifth and most compelling of the Edgar-winning Mas Arai mysteries, it’s up to this quiet, uneducated old man—who considers himself unworthy and finds most other human beings to be exhausting—to unravel the layers of mysteries. He negotiates a complicated web of Arai cousins, deals with decades-old family rivalries, faces a terrifying attempt on his life, and ultimately discovers not just what was behind the two deaths, but why a top-secret new strawberry varietal is named for him—and why it may have inspired murder.