REVIEW: The Flower Arranger, JJ Ellis #BLOGTOUR

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

"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. Filled with twists and turns, this unforgettable thriller is JJ Ellis’ first novel.

Told in vivid and startling detail, JJ Ellis’ The Flower Arranger is a masterful evocation of all of the chaos and colours of modern-day Japan featuring, in its shadowy under-belly, a crime that is certain to make many of its readers' toes curl. Ellis’ every word brings to life the noise of Tokyo, or the beauty of Himeji; creating a novel, and a crime so steeped in the society that spawned it, that would almost certainly not work anywhere else. And, because the focus on the details specific to the country manage to be, at once, precise and remarkably deft, this marvellous tour-de-force debut manages to paint a Japan just as alive as the flowers at its focus.
Featuring the most reluctant police force and most tenacious journalist in the entirety of the world, its rip-roaring narrative and incredibly short chapter-structure propel the novel’s readers through Japanese office and social politics towards one of the creepiest literary serial killers I have come across in quite some time. Their presence spawns questions, their appearance: a feeling of unease. As the hunt for them unfolds, and the calm once felt slips from the characters’ (and more importantly, the readers’) grasps, the curtain falls and true horror emerges. It is honestly one twist that hit me like a tonne of bricks - I can not imagine that I, and many others like me, will ever be able to look at a cherry blossom again without recoiling in horror.

Thanks to Agora Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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