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The Flower Arranger: A story she can't let go. A case he can't solve. A killer who won't stop.

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  40 ratings  ·  32 reviews
An astonishing and evocative debut from a new voice in crime fiction.

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 tre
Paperback, 344 pages
Published October 5th 2019 by Agora Books (first published September 2019)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  40 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Whispering Stories
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
British Holly Blain is working as a reporter in Japan covering the showbiz section for a local newspaper. She hates her job and has always had aspirations to become a journalist covering crime stories. Her big break comes when she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka who wants her help.

Young foreign women have been going missing and the police are at a loss as to what is happening to them, that is until one of the women turn up dead, arranged as the centrepiece for a flower arrangement.

The journalist an
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This Japanese game of cat-and-mouse had me engrossed from the beginning. Despite struggling with the Japanese language and names, I relished in reading this different crime thriller about a country I know very little about.

To be honest, I do not feel that the blurb creates the excitement reflected in the narrative. It was so thrilling and interesting that I could not put it down. Definitely not what I was initially expected! Whilst I was not spending my time totally questioning who was the kille
Liz Barnsley
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Flower Arranger has atmosphere in spades, a beautifully descriptive sense of place, a creepy bad guy and two main protagonists who are very different to each other creating a yin yang feel to proceedings – I thought it was great.

The cultural layers are highly intriguing and very well layered, the mystery element is clever and imaginative and bound to cause the odd shiver or two. More of a whydunnit than whodunnit we also get scenes from the killer which added huge flavour to the overall read
Kalyn Woodbury
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Holly Blain moved to Tokyo to help her career move in a different direction. Instead of covering fluffy entertainment news, she wants to cover the big, important stuff. With enough begging, her boss finally allows her to work with Tetsu Tanaka, the head of a Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police unit, for just one day a week. Can a case about young foreign women disappearing be her big break, and can she and Tanaka take the killer down?

You know that kid in high school that got *waaay* too into anime and n
Emma Shaw
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Flower Arranger is an atmospheric novel seeped in layers of Japanese culture. The beautiful imagery transported me into this different world that I knew relatively little about. But amongst the beauty is something dark. Someone is using the pretty flowers to create macabre and unnerving arrangements that they then put on public display. Holly Blain, an ambitious young journalist determined to make a name for herself, and Detective Tetsu Tanaka, are hunting him. But he manages to stay one ste ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
As debut novels go this one is fantastic. This is a mysterious thriller set in Japan, fronted by the characters Holly Blain and Tetsu Tanaka and featuring a very artistic serial killer.
Ellis really shows off their knowledge of Japan in this story, we get a true understanding of the culture, fashion, people and scenery. I enjoyed discovering new facts and trivia about the place. There was a few Japanese words and phrases thrown in (Google came in handy for me here) at first this did seem to anno
rina dunn
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's no secret I love a good thriller and this ticked all the boxes for me!
This book is set in Japan which I LOVE as it really makes it original!
I don't really like to go too much into a plot of a thriller In my reviews as it's such a fine balance between spoiling it and making people want to pick it up and read it and I definitely recommend that!

There's a flower arranger with a sinister twist to his arrangements and its down to Tetsu Tanaka a detective from Tokyo's police department and his c
Donna Hines
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Dark art with a twist of murder and a spice of cherry blossom and orchids.
It's a feel of cultural mystery in this newest debut work from JJ Ellis and he scored big league as there's plenty of thrilling action, suspense, and mystery to entice us all.
The Flower arrangement looks like a morgue sketch...
I'm sorry that's not how it should be but in this case exotic young and beautiful woman are turning up dead and there's two protagonist running rampant.
A tragic past with twin suicides and a death of
Margaret Duke-Wyer
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Absolutely the best part of this book (for me) was the examination of Japanese culture – even though our hero (a journalist who is desperate to be the crime reporter) is perhaps a sub-culture inasmuch as she is pretty much a non-conformist in terms of appearance and friendships and relationships. I have a little knowledge about the culture and was therefore acclimatised to the extreme formality and this certainly added to my enjoyment of this unusual detective story.

The two main characters, the
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thriller set in Japan. A detective meets a journalist/wanna-be-crime-journalist recommended by the owner of the Cafe. And together, with their ups and downs, uncover a flower arranging criminal. With beautiful descriptions of the cherry blossom, the daily/tourist life and how people's backgrounds sometimes catch up to them, this was a book that kept me hooked. Secrets that can change the course of the investigation, and how sometimes even when you know the danger you are in, there are things s ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Murder in Japan sounds complicated, but this book caters for those with no knowledge of Japanese culture or language. J.J. Ellis manages to combine a stunning mystery with several strands of family strains. This marks the introduction of two characters who have different motivations for tracking down the killer, an experienced police Inspector and a young journalist. Tetsu Tanaka, known as Tanaka, is a family man with a keen sense of responsibility, a little hesitant in the seedier side of Tokyo ...more
Neriah Samraksha
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"And she was his - captured to create a fleeting moment of haunting beauty."

This book is anything but disappointing and dull. This fast-paced, suspenseful, thrilling real page-turner is set in Japan. Thanks to a travel diary I read a couple of months back, I am truly fascinated with Japan and its culture.

Holly Blain, a showbiz journalist, who has moved to Japan aspiring to be a crime journalist, becomes fortunate enough to get acquainted with inspector Tetsu Tanaka. They both end up being entan
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Flowers and a thriller set mainly in TOKYO

Do you love all things Japanese? Love a good thriller? Then this is a novel for you.

Holly Blain is a rookie reporter, from England but who speaks wonderful Japanese and who is whiling away her days reporting on youth culture and entertainment at the Tōkei Shimbun. She However wants something more meaty and would love to work on reporting crime.

She is introduced to Inspector Tanaka who is very enmeshed in the rigours of his investigating department but th
Rhian Eleri
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Clark
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Journalist Holly Blain is desperate to prove herself in the world of crime reporting. She manages to develop a working, yet volatile relationship with Detective Tanaka of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police. Together they follow up disturbing reports of missing girls; chasing promising leads across Tokyo, resulting in a nail-biting chase to catch a twisted killer.
I absolutely loved this book! I felt it was fast-paced and gripped me from the very start. I loved the lead characters, both of whom I warmed
Clare Rhoden
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, crime
Strictly speaking, this book was NOT next on my TBR pile. However, when it arrived, I read the first couple of pages - something I do so that I know what I'll be in store for.
Then I couldn't put it down.
This is neat and assured crime writing from a debut author well in control of characterisation, scene-setting and plot lines.
The setting, in Tokyo, gives us a more restrained palette in a highly structured society where self-control is one of the highest virtues. There is no gratuitous gore, whic
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
It took me a while to get into the space of this story. Set in Japan, the workings of a young journalist and the police force were at play here. That part of the story telling was just the same as any other. There were places in the mind set of the murderer or pursuer of the young girls who were his victims that was the hard part to fathom.

Two young women, one Swedish one French go missing. The Swedish girl's body is found. No violation, but just a small wound on her neck which indicates the blo
Megan Palmer
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well well WOW!
When an incredible debut novel by J J Ellis

▪Based in Japan, it follows Miss Blain and her extreme passion and determination to become a crime reporter. This passion is what leads her to Tanaka, the Inspector tasked with solving the murder of a young woman. This young woman however was found with an unusual petal, and extreme flower arrangements keep appearing, with the centerpiece missing! What or who is meant for the centrepiece?

▪This was gifted to me by @agorabooksldn and I am et
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a most unusual book. It is set in Japan, where several young, European girls have disappeared. Then one is found murdered, her body displayed among flowers. Inspector Tanaka is on the case, and becomes involved with Holly Blain, a determined English girl who was working as a reporter on a local newspaper.

I was very unaware of the police procedures in Japan - and the amazing fact that an autopsy is not automatically arranged when there is a suspicious death, but only when the police can
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in Japan where several young European girls have disappeared, one is found dead with her body is displayed among flowers. Inspector Tanaka gets the case but he needs the help of hungry journalist Holly Blain, can they learn to trust each other and work together in time to find this twisted killer before he strikes again?

This novel is unique, interesting mystery. Ellis' illustrative writing was really engaging, though it was a slow starter it soon picked up the pace and had me racing to the
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: gifted
I found the story interesting and I wanted to keep reading to know how it will pan out. I haven't read anything like this before! I really enjoyed learning about Japanese culture but I did find I had to stop reading and google a few words, to understand their meaning, but it was definitely a great insight to Japan and their culture.

I liked the relationship development between Blain & Tanaka, as much as their characters did clash, I enjoyed the dynamic! I would like to know more about Blain'
Lucy Evans
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Holly Blain is a Showbiz Journalist but aspires to be a Crime Reporter. A mutual friend from her favourite Cafe, introduces her to Inspector Tetsu Tanaka from Tokyo Metropolitan Police. A missing person case leads to the break Holly needs and when a body is found at a landfill, the 'cat and mouse' chase begins to find the suspect. Will the career-driven Journalist or the dedicated Inspector locate the suspect first or will they work together to unravel the case?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
The Flower Arranger is a really readable book. I enjoyed the inclusion of Japanese culture, it made it refreshing in comparison to other crime novels.

Another refreshing change is that it’s so easy to read. JJ Ellis creates a lovely flow of words that I found so easy to get on board with.

My only negative is that the characters had little depth. It may be a reflection of the Japanese politeness, but even internal thoughts were PC. Where’s the passion?

Overall it’s a nice story and I did enjoy unc
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Immersive, suspenseful, unusual, this book almost defies description. The pride and seeing are sublime, and both foreign, and yet engaging and familiar. The story, though a bit OTT at points was still an incredible read. I found I finished it in only a few days, it was that good. So good that I missed my bedtime, twice!
I will be revisiting the book, and nearsighted author with interest!
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I really really enjoyed this book, particularly the setting. I’m not sure if it was due to the fabulous setting of Japan but this thriller felt fresh and interesting to me. I would definitely recommend reading this book.
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall a decent story that keeps you wanting to read. The two main characters have an interesting dynamic and their duo works well for the plot. The antagonist is creepy, in a good way but could have had more time devoted to him early on. If you like crime dramas this is for you.
Johnna Whetstone
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
3 for neutral. I was very sad, because so many loved this book and I thought I would as well, but was just not able to get into it and enjoy enough to finish. Will update if able to read and enjoy at a later date.
Peyton Stableford
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Immersive, eerie, and absolutely unputdownable. JJ Ellis is an impressive new voice in crime fiction - can’t wait to see more.
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