Naomi Hirahara

Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which features a Kibei Nisei gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes. Her new mystery series with a female hapa bicycle cop was launched in April 2014 with the publication of Murder on Bamboo Lane. The second in the series, Grave on Grand Avenue, is available now. She authored a 12-part serial for Discover Nikkei titled “The Nihongo Papers” and “Baishakunin, Inc.”

Updated June 2015

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 2

>> Chapter 1

Solicitor Phyllis Hamakawa looked out her Toronto city council office and felt her stomach churn. She could have blamed the dim sum she ate at a lunch reception in Old Chinatown, one of the three Chinatowns in Toronto proper. But she knew her unease had nothing to do with shrimp har gau and everything to do with Terrence Spicer’s resignation from his ward position this morning. Although they discussed council business in public, she hadn’t spoken to Terrence privately in two months, ever since she broke it off.

It hadn’t been fear of scandal or ...

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 1

“There’s another one,” said Bob Shishido, almost in whisper.

“No.” Greg went to the desk on the other side of the bungalow and looked over his father’s shoulder at the computer screen.

It was a link to a Los Angeles Times story. Another death due to strawberries. This was the third case. All in Ontario, Canada.

The Shishido Farm strawberries weren’t shipped to Canada. But that didn’t matter. Strawberries weren’t like packaged cookies or aspirin. People couldn’t tell the difference between brands and varieties. Consumers didn’t know the difference between strawberries grown in ...

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The Making of Mamo's Weeds: Mystery of an L.A. Gardener's Life

As I’ve stated before in interviews, it took me 15 years to get my first novel published. I rewrote it numerous times (maybe the first chapter 33 times!), eliminated major characters, revamped the plot, and changed the title about four times. The one thing that stayed the same was the lead character, Mas Arai, a Japanese American gardener and atomic bomb survivor.

Only when the story transformed into a mystery did literary agents finally take notice. The title, Summer of the Big Bachi, also reflected the story’s mysterious plot line. Since then I’ve come to realize that ...

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