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Mas Arai Books In Order

Publication Order of Mas Arai Books

Summer of the Big Bachi (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Gasa-Gasa Girl (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Snakeskin Shamisen (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Blood Hina (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Strawberry Yellow (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sayonara Slam (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hiroshima Boy (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Naomi Hirahara writes the “Mas Arai” series, which is from the genres of mystery and thriller.

Mas Arai, the star of the series, is a Japanese-American survivor of Hiroshima. He is a gardener in Los Angeles, California and is a sleuth. He also enjoys gambling. Despite spending many years in America, his English is not that great, yet his Japanese is not much better.

The series is set in Pasadena, California and the Japanese-American subculture features prominently. This is where Naomi Hirahara was born and grew up. Her mother lost her father in the blast at Hiroshima, while Naomi’s father was able to survive it.

The series began publication when “Summer of the Big Bachi” was released in the year 2004.

“Summer of the Big Bachi” was nominated for a 2005 Macavity Award. It also made Chicago Tribune’s ten best mysteries and thrillers for 2004, and was one of Publishers Weekly’s best books of 2004. In the year 2007, “Snakeskin Shamisen” was nominated for an Anthony Award, and it won a 2007 Edgar for best paperback original.

“Summer of the Big Bachi” is the first novel in the “Mas Arai” series, which was released in the year 2004. In Pasadena’s foothills, Mas Arai is one more Japanese-American gardener, with sharp and clean lawnmower blades, and a carefully tuned truck.

He keeps lawns neatly trimmed, but his life has gone to seed. His wife is deceased. Mas’ livelihood is falling to the guys that he used to hire for the day. To Mas, his life of sin is now catching up to him. Now Bachi, retribution’s spirit is now at his door.

It starts when a stranger starts asking questions about a nursery guy that used to live in Hiroshima, who was named Joji Haneda. At the end of the summer, Joji is going to be dead and Mas’ life is going to be hanging in the balance. For a time, he was working on a life at the edge of the American dream. At the same time, he kept some huge secrets. About three friends a long time ago, two lives that are linked, and what really went down in August 1945 when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Fans of the novel found this to be a poetic, artful, and an affective debut novel. Readers were blown away by the novel, it is simply a great read. The mystery takes a back seat to the atmosphere brought to life. You learn about a lot of history and the characters that star.

“Gasa-Gasa Girl” is the second novel in the “Mas Arai” series, which was released in the year 2005. Since Mari (Mas Arai’s daughter) was a child, she was completely gasa-gasa: always on the go, getting into everything, and could never sit still. Mas never had a lot of time to spend with the family he was trying to support.

For many years, Mari has lived in resentment a continent away in New York City and lived a life Mas didn’t know much about. He gets an anxious call from Mari where she asks for his help, and it plunges Mas into some startling situations. From moving around in an unfamiliar city to making nice with Lloyd (his blond and tall son-in-law) to caring for a sickly child. He even finds a dead body in the ruins of what used to be a Koi pond.

Kazzy Ouchi was the victim, and was half-Japanese millionaire who was Mari and Lloyd’s boss. Stumbling on the scene, Mas is able to pick up on more than the detectives, but his first instinct is to keep silent about it. Only when the case threatens Mari and her family does he take action. Patiently and stubbornly tugging on the end of the dangerous and tangled mystery. While he does, he starts to open up a tragic secret on an American dream’s dark side.

Fans of the novel found this to be a fascinating view of Japanese-American subculture inside a riveting mystery. The story is told with both wisdom and heart.

“Snakeskin Shamisen” is the third novel in the “Mas Arai” series, which was released in the year 2006. There is not much that gets Mas much more excited than gambling. When he hears about a half a million dollar win, from a novelty slot machine, it has him torn between derision and admiration. The stakes get raised quickly when the winner, who is a buddy of G. I. Hasuike (Mas’ Pal) gets stabbed to death a few days later.

The last thing that Mas would like to do is to stick his nose into another person’s business, but after G. I. prods him to follow the trail of a weathered snakeskin shamisen, which is a traditional Okinawan musical instrument that was left at the scene. He finds himself caught in the middle of a dark mystery that goes from the islands of Okinawa to L. A.’s streets. It’s a world of deception, heartbreaking memories, and murder.

Fans of the novel found that this one proves Naomi is one of a kind, and this series is not like any other. She created one of the most unique characters in contemporary mystery writing. This is both a compelling and haunting mystery read. This book is a well plotted whodunit that shows the Japanese-American community in Los Angeles, and has enough twists to keep you guessing.

“Blood Hina” is the fourth novel in the “Mas Arai” series, which was released in the year 2010. Mas’ best friend, Haruo, is about to get married and Mas has reluctantly agreed to be his best man. Then an ancient doll display of Haruo’s fiancee turns up missing, and the wedding is called off, as fingers are pointed at Haruo. In order to restore his friend’s good name, Mas has to uncover a world featuring heartbreaking memories, murder, and deception.

There is no other character quite like Mas, and readers enjoy these books because of him. You can clearly hear this well rendered character speak. The guy is intricate, and you will care for the guy, even if you are not a big mystery fan.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Mas Arai