ナオミ・ヒラハラ

(Naomi Hirahara)

Naomi 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, Officer Ellie Rush series, and now the new Leilani Santiago mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo, she has written a number of nonfiction books on the Japanese American experience and several 12-part serials for Discover Nikkei.

Updated October 2019

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Killer Roll

Chapter Five — Murder Menu

“The first official meeting of Yudai Investigations is called to order,” Yudai says as our fivesome make our way in a residential area of Mountain View. Instead of our typical donburi, Hector has made onigiri with leftovers in the middle. Som has one with a hotdog; Carrie, tofu; Yudai, carnitas; and me, tamagoyaki. Hector himself eats a burrito he has made at home. All of it can be eaten while walking.

Som stuffs his onigiri in his mouth and starts to pass out menus to each of us.

I don’t think that the detective agency work has anything to ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter Four — Maki vs. the BGWAAM

Up to now, I’ve never felt that a group that I belonged to believed in me. When I left for America, my family thought that I would come running back home. That didn’t happen. My classmates thought that I was peculiar, too clever for our fishing village in Wakayama. They predicted that I would end up a hostess girl in the red-light district in Tokyo. That didn’t happen, either.

But as I’m sharing my current troubles to my coworkers at Yudai’s Corner, it occurs to me that I’ve finally found my people. They don ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter Three — Don’t Be a Bakatare

What attracted me to Kurt, you may wonder. It wasn’t that he was particularly good looking. I mean, he was tall, six-three, but he was really thin; at five-six I may have actually weighed the same as he did. But just the fact that he desired me made me desire him back.

The waitress at Yudai’s Corner, Carrie, says this is old-school thinking. Women should not be objects, playthings for men. She’s a gorgeous blonde Stanford student, while I’m of a different generation. And from Japan.

After all he’s put me through—left me without ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter Two — False Identity

The first thing I figure out: that my date, Ray DiPietro, wasn’t quite who he said he was.

Before I can even call in his murder, the police arrives at my workplace, Yudai’s Corner. First it was a couple of plainclothes detectives in an unmarked car. And then five black-and-white squad cars with Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department emblazoned on their side doors.

I begin shaking like a leaf. A woman pulls me aside, shows me some official identification and starts to pat me down while her male partner watches.

“What are you doing? I didn’t kill ...

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Killer Roll

Chapter One — Henna Otoko

Yudai is gone tonight, so I’m in charge again. The third night in a row. I’m tired; I notice some dark circles around my eyes this morning and apply a heavier layer of Shiseido concealer. I try to pretend that it magically works to transform me into a young woman full of vitality, but I can’t get away from the stark truth that I’m a forty-two year old divorcée with a slightly crooked front tooth and wrinkles on her forehead from too much worrying.

“Your boyfriend was here again for lunch,” Som, our bus boy ...

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