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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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 5

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Carlos Yamashita knew that the old man was practically blind to begin with, but since the three of them had arrived in California, Bisabuelo’s sight had worsened. He still stayed alone in the neighboring hotel room, which was more than fine with Carlos. As soon as Bisabuelo awakened in the morning, however, he would call Carlos and his father’s room. Usually Father had left for work already, so it would be up to Carlos to answer the phone by the first ring. If he waited until the second, or ay dios mio, the third ring, Carlos …

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 4

>> Chapter 3

Phyllis Hamakawa felt the scent of the incense wash over her as the Buddhist priests chanted, groaning almost like summer cicada. The whole sanctuary in the new church seemed to pulse as the line of black-suited people, friends and strangers, either embraced her or bowed in front of her. A few feet away was Baa-chan in her oak casket, her hands, speckled with age spots, carefully arranged as if she were clasping them together. She was in her favorite gray dress. A woman my age should never wear bright colors, Baa-chan would say to Phyllis whenever …

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The Nihongo Papers

Chapter 3

>> Chapter 2

Haru Shishido reached out for the dashboard as their Model T truck hit some potholes in the dirt road. Papa was going much faster than usual. If Mama was in the car, she would be saying, “Papa, abunai.” Papa, danger. But Mama was at home resting with the baby. Auntie Himeko was with her. Auntie, who was visiting from Sacramento, was a stern woman who lost her patience with Haru. So when Papa rushed to the car to do some errand, Haru chased after him, eager to get away from her crying younger brother and her …

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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 being discovered …

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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 Watsonville, California, and Oxnard, California, where the …

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