March 1, 2013
First sentence: "The wind, the rain, my soaked Converse sneakers."
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Violet loves all things Japanese, from kimono fabric to drawing manga. And so when her father gets commissioned to paint a mural in the offices of one of the most influential families in Japan, Violet jumps at the chance to join him.
But, things quickly take a turn for the sinister: a couple of original Van Gogh drawings have been stolen and a Japanese mobster is demanding that the painting based on those drawings be found, or everyone's life is forfeit. There's more to it then that: there's suspicious characters (always suspect the security guard), FBI stings (Neal Caffrey needed to show up; it would have been better if he did), shopping (always up for that), Japanese festivals (in this case, Gion Matusri), parent-child tensions (the dad was annoyingly hot and cold -- he'd either ignore Violet or ground her to her room *sigh), and lots and lots of manga.
It wasn't a bad read; I liked Violet, and I actually liked the fact that while she did solve the mystery, she didn't do it by gallivanting about the country in defiance of everyone. She worked with the adults, letting the FBI know what she found out every step of the way. I did think that Renn balanced the responsibility with action and adventure, and even if it wasn't constantly thrilling, it was good.
But the thing I liked most was how very, well, informative it was about Japan and Japanese culture. I'm hoping it's mostly accurate, I felt like I was immersed in a Japanese world, and came out on the other side more educated because of it.
And for that alone, I found this book worth reading.