And now he knew what was wrong with the arrangement. It was the Ma… the negative space… There was only one thing beautiful enough to fill it and — finally — she was with him. Ready, if not willing, to play her role.
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.
Tanaka isn’t so sure. Always one to do things by the book, he’s hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation.
But young women keep disappearing and 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.
The Flower Arranger was an immersive and suspenseful thriller which I really enjoyed reading. For a debut novel, the writing and plot was solid and I was impressed by the subtle tension that JJ Ellis was able to create throughout.
The novel focuses on reporter Holly Blain who wants more challenging stories to write about than the entertainment section. Holly wants in on the crime beat, however her boss is sceptical and doesn’t believe she has it in her. It’s a stroke of luck that brings Holly and Inspector Tetsu Tanaka together as a string of European girls go missing and strange floral arrangements appear around Tokyo and neighbouring cities. Could the two be linked?
Usually I find police procedural thrillers difficult to get into and sometimes they can be a bit dry but it really worked in this book and I really got into it. I think it helped that the novel was fast paced and there was always some development in the case, it didn’t drag for too long and the two main characters are quick witted and smart. Tanaka and Blain make a good team and I look forward to the sequel so more of their dynamic can be explored as well as Blains mysterious past.
Another element I enjoyed about the novel was the setting. While I haven’t been to Japan myself – yet! I have an admiration for Japanese culture and cuisine so it was interesting noting the different references, places and language used in the novel. While I didn’t know all of the terms in the story, as I was reading on my kindle it was easy to highlight and do a quick search of any terms so I got up to speed quickly. I liked that JJ Ellis chose to include the Japanese phrases as I learnt something new.
I found that the killers motive and backstory was unique and definitely creepy, although I was a little underwhelmed by the final standoff and thought it could have been more exciting or with higher tension. There was just something missing there for me but it was still a satisfactory conclusion and it didn’t bother me too much. Would I re-read this novel? Probably not, but it was an enjoyable one time read and that’s okay with me. I would still read the sequel as I’m intrigued to find out what case Tanaka and Blain tackle next.
About the Author:
JJ Ellis was born and raised in Yorkshire in northern England, though now lives near London. The author’s interest in Japan was sparked when a family member won a trip there by singing in Japanese at an exhibition in the UK. Several visits followed — to Tokyo and further flung places such as Ishigaki and Iriomote — as Ellis developed the idea for The Flower Arranger. Two more crime novels featuring the team of Tanaka and Blain are planned. The Flower Arranger is JJ Ellis’ first novel.
Until next time,