Blood Hina (book)
Creators: Naomi Hirahara
Book cover. Courtesy of Minotaur Books
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The fourth book in the Mas Arai Mysteries series by Naomi Hirahara finds the Kibei gardener coming to the aid of his best friend, Haruo Mukai, whose impending wedding is interrupted by accusations of theft and by his sudden disappearance.
As the novel begins, Haruo, like Mas, a hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) is set to marry his fiancé Sutama "Spoon" Hayakawa, a Nisei widow who works for the family's flower business. Her husband Ike had died in a 1980s car accident, and she has three adult daughters. But the apparent theft of two of Spoon's priceless hina dolls (dolls displayed to commemorate Girl's Day, a Japanese tradition many Japanese Americans continue to observe) puts the wedding on hold when Spoon's daughter Dee accuses Haruo of taking them. Having already given notice that he would be moving out of his apartment—with the intention of moving into Spoon's house after the wedding—Haruo finds himself homeless and moves in with Mas temporarily. Meanwhile, Mas sets out to find out more about the dolls and who stole them to try to clear Haruo's name, a task made more urgent with Haruo's sudden disappearance. As in all of the Mas Arai books, the roots of the mystery stem from the events of the World War II era, and in the case of Blood Hina , of the 1980s as well.
As with the other books, World War II and the echoes of the Japanese American incarceration come up frequently. It is revealed that Spoon and her deceased husband Ike had been married in Manzanar , where, among other things, he had worked on the guayule project there. Ike later serves in the Counter Intelligence Corps in occupation-era Japan. The scion of a successful flower growing family in Montebello, the family had been able to avoid major losses due to incarceration thanks to Ike's friend Jorg de Groot and his family, who watch over their farm. The families remained close friends and business partners after the war, and Ike and Jorg were killed in a car accident in the 1980s while on a business trip. Spoon and Jorg's wife Sonya also remained friends and neighbors until a dispute over the stolen dolls—which were found in Jorg's safe deposit box—breaks up their friendship.
While no date is given for when the novel is set, we are told that Haruo is 71 years old. In the first book of the series, Summer of the Big Bachi , which takes place in the summer of 1999, we are told that Haruo is 69, setting Blood Hina in 2001–02.