Nikkei Detective

Private investigator Kevin “Kev” Shirota calls himself an OOCG, an Original Orange County Guy. The last place this Huntington Beach, California, native wants to be in is Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, but he finds himself there temporarily to operate his failing PI business. The only bonus is that his fourteen-year-old estranged daughter, Maddy, loves Little Tokyo, which can possibly bring the two closer together. But a series of vandalism and then the discovery of a dead body challenge not only Kev’s investigating skills, but maybe the relationships that are the most dear to him.

This is an original serialized story written for Discover Nikkei by award-winning mystery author Naomi Hirahara. A new chapter will be published on the fourth of every month from August 2014 through July 2015.

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Chapter Seven—Do You Know the Way to Hancock Park?

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I stare at the message a second time. It’s printed out on a regular white letter-sized paper, the standard offering of any office store. The font is Helvetica, also totally nondescript. The content, however, is not anything typical. It’s a blatant threat, telling me to stop investigating the murder of a seventy-something Japanese woman in Little Tokyo. Or else.

If it’s just me, I’d wad up the paper and say, “What the hell.” But I’m a dad of a fourteen-year-old daughter, Maddy, whom I’m responsible for, and I’m not going ...

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Chapter Six—Noguchi Verses

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As I make my way to the Koban Visitors Center, First Street in Little Tokyo is hopping. And I don’t mean just the millenials lined up at Daikokuya ramen house. Couples pushing strollers and teenagers in cosplay. It’s a weekday evening in August. Those attempting to revitalize Nisei Week Japanese Festival, an annual shindig since the 1930s, need a pat on the back. Whatever they are doing, it’s working.

I text my fourteen-year-old daughter Maddy to make sure that she’s safe and sound in our temporary living quarters, a low-income residential unit around ...

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Chapter Five—Sansei Anonymous

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The Sansei guy standing in front of us is the same guy in the photo in my wallet. A little bit skinnier, a little more buff. (He’s obviously been working out during his recovery, while my paunch only gets softer.) I’m convinced that he’s Eric Fujii, the suspect in a Little Tokyo murder that I’m investigating.

Right now, he’s confessing, Narcotics Anonymous style. “She was always on my case, comparing me with my sister, saying that I was no good. I mean, I know that I needed to move out of her ...

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Chapter Four—Waru Bozu

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A seventy-eight-year-old Japanese woman from Fukushima is found dead from a blow to the head in an alley next to Japanese Village Plaza in Little Tokyo. Her fifty-year-old Sansei son, described as a “loser” by his very uptown sister, walks into the mother’s senior housing unit with a hammer in his pocket immediately afterwards. Yup, it did sound suspicious. Yes, it could be incriminating. But, in my thirty years of detecting, I’ve learned that you can’t make a conclusion just based on two pieces of information. The information has to be linked with hard ...

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Chapter Three—If I Had a Hammer

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Some people read palms. Others read tea leaves. I like to read teeth. No, I’m not one of those weirdoes with strange fetishes. My younger sister, Traci, is a dentist in Yorba Linda and also my only sibling who still talks to me. During the early days of her practice, she hired me to shake down people who wrote her bounced checks. I told her just to deal in cash or credit cards, especially for uninsured services, but that’s not how Traci rolls. Yeah, she’s one of these people with a heart of gold ...

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