The Flowery War.
by Tim Andersen
Goshan Fenn is a graduate school dropout who, on the strength of his family connections, goes to work for the famous expert in alien languages, Tolan Smith. When Smith begins to receive messages from an alien species, he starts behaving strangely, and Smith's superiors task Fenn to spy on him. But, unknown to Fenn, he's not the only spy. As conflicting loyalties threaten to overwhelm him, Fenn becomes involved in a web of deception and intrigue that threatens the future of humanity. Pursued by an unknown assassin, Fenn must decide whom to trust or whether to trust anyone at all.