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The Typhoon Lover    by Sujata Massey order for
Typhoon Lover
by Sujata Massey
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Unknown dangers lie ahead for antique dealer Rei Shimura as she travels from Washington, D.C. to Tokyo. After a night celebrating her 30th birthday, Rei keeps her early morning appointment for a job interview at the Smithsonian. It turns out to be for a hush-hush political assignment. Rei is introduced to Japanese and American officials. The group is well-versed in Rei's background, as pictures of her and places she visited are flashed on a screen, to demonstrate her credibility to handle the role of informant. Michael Hendricks is her American contact, and Rei is instructed on code words to use, when conversing by cell phone.

Rei is to search for, and authenticate, an ancient Mid-East pitcher, looted from the National Museum in Iraq. The 'ibex ewer' is thought to be in the possession of a Japanese collector with a passion for Mid-East vessels - who happens to be Rei's ex-boyfriend Takeo Kayamo. How will her present boyfriend, Hugh, handle her reunion with Takeo? Rei is not allowed to tell anyone why she's going to Tokyo. Since she knows Far East art, not Near East or Mesopotamia art, she visits museums and talks with curators to learn more, before leaving for Japan. Though this an unpaid assignment, the perks attract Rei, who will get to keep a newly-issued passport, with clean pages and an embassy stamp (she was deported by the Japanese police the year before, for unlawfully entering a room in search of evidence).

Takeo is not considered a suspect in the theft of the ewer, but supposedly acquired it on the black market. But Takeo and Rei parted on unfriendly terms and his reaction on seeing her in Japan is lukewarm. Rei learns that Takeo is engaged to be married to Emi Harada, daughter of Kenichi Harada, the recently-appointed minister for the environment. Rei visits with old friends and family, especially Aunt Norie, who works for Takeo in his family flower arranging school. Rei faces traumatic times in her latest adventure, including a hard-hitting typhoon, suspicious individuals following her, a tragic automobile accident, paparazzi, and the loss of her cell phone.

Sujata Massey delivers a multi-layered story with romance, an Asian cultural background, and a few surprises. I did find details - of who wore what, and where, designer clothing down to the sneakers, plus where and what people ate - tedious at times. There are also events in the story that could easily have been excluded - such as Rei's visit to a U.S. Senator friend, and drawn-out connections with Hugh's brother's music band. Those aside, I enjoyed the latest Rei Shimura mystery.

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