Death of an Origamist

Sachi Yamane, an emergency room nurse, escapes the pressure of life-and-death situations through the precise and calming world of origami. Attending an origami convention in Anaheim, California, she looks forward to meeting her idol, Craig Buck, a guru of not only origami but also life. Over the past two years, Sachi has gone through her set of losses—her husband’s fatal heart attack and unexpected deaths of some coworkers. Meeting Buck and being immersed in origami will again restore peace in Sachi’s life, or so she thinks. But as it turns out, the origami convention is not the safe haven that this sixty-one year old Sansei imagines it to be.

This is an original serialized story written for Discover Nikkei by award-winning mystery author Naomi Hirahara. 

Read Chapter One

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Chapter Seven—I Spy—You

Sachi never saw herself as an undercover agent type, but she definitely had to always chip away at the truth. She had been an emergency room nurse her whole professional life. Her job was to quickly size up a situation and to ask the right questions—“what did he eat today?” to the frantic mother with the vomiting child; “are you sure you’re not pregnant?” to the teenager who fainted in class; “did your husband drive you to the hospital?” to the middle-aged woman with the black eye.

Now someone, a man who stood six feet and smelled good, had asked …


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Chapter Six—The Other Woman

Sachi was always a bit intimidated by beautiful women, especially Asian ones. She herself ranked about a 5 in appearance, maybe a 6 when she was in her late twenties and playing in a volleyball league. She had daikon ashi, white radish-shaped legs that were good for squatting to set a ball, but not so good in jeans—either skinny or bell bottoms.

Olivia was definitely in the realm of a 10. Or maybe even more. She must have been in her forties, but her skin was absolutely flawless—not a stray freckle or age spot in sight. Her long black …


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Chapter Five—Chicken McNuggets Confidential

Sachi Yamane didn’t know what it was like to be fired. She had snagged her job at Los Angeles County General Hospital after she had finished nursing school. That had been almost forty years ago and she had stayed in its ER ever since.

For Kenji the bodyguard to be fired in front of her was uncomfortable. Disturbing even, because she somehow felt responsible.

She got up from one of the penthouse overstuffed chairs and followed him out the double doors into the hotel hallway.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, pulling at the hem of her silly little black dress …


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Chapter Four—The Inner Circle

T-Rex, also known as Craig Buck, was dead. Sachi Yamane felt like she was going to collapse right there at the banquet table in front of their Star Wars origami centerpiece. How could that be? She had just spent an hour with the master origamist in his exclusive class in the hotel penthouse that same afternoon.

The whole banquet hall was atwitter with the announcement. It wasn’t an official announcement by the Left Coast Origami Convention organizer, Charles, but his 12-year-old origami savant son, Taku.

“Didn’t you see Mr. Buck today?” asked a woman seated across from Sachi at their …


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Chapter Three—Little Black Dress

“Well, how was T-Rex’s class?” Barbara Lu, Sachi Yamane’s roommate at the convention hotel, asked. Seated at the desk by the window, Barbara was folding one of her trademark origami otters.

“Okay,” Sachi said, again trying to stay positive. She placed her convention bag and purse on her double bed which housekeeping had neatly restored to its original immaculate state.

“Well, let me see it.” Barbara stood up.


“You know, what T-Rex had you make in his special seminar.” Barbara’s voice was still tinged with envy. She wasn’t a type of woman who could mask her feelings.

Sachi felt …



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