Daily Archives: August 25, 2014

A Day in the Life of Officer Ellie Rush by Naomi Hirahara

Murder on Bamboo Lane…according to Her BFF, Nay Pram

Okay, Ellie’s the one who should be writing this, but she’s apparently way too busy at work, so I told her, “Don’t stress out, girl. I have your back.” She’s my BFF, after all, ever since we met at a class at Pan Pacific West College, just a little south of downtown L.A.

Downtown is actually where Ellie works – as an LAPD cop, like her aunt, Deputy Chief Cheryl Toma. Yah, that Cheryl Toma, the highest-ranking Asian American officer in the department. Pretty big shoes to fill. Ellie patrols on a bicycle; she’s one of those bike cops who gives out jaywalking tickets (damn her). Actually, I shouldn’t diss my girl, because she does a lot more than that. Counsels kids at risk who are truant. Makes sure homeless women are safe. And right now, well, it’s actually pretty intense and sad. One of our former classmates was found dead in an alley, Bamboo Lane, in Chinatown.

Ellie’s ex, Benjamin, doesn’t trust the cops. Neither does the other person in our Fearsome Foursome, Rickie, Mr. Primadonna. I’m actually a little worried, too, but I’d never let Ellie know. She’s got enough pressure. Her mom doesn’t get what she does and her younger brother, Noah, in high school is probably a few steps from being in jail himself.

I’m waiting for Ellie now at our regular hangout, Osaka’s ramen shop in Little Tokyo. It’s right here on First Street, a few blocks east of City Hall. Hey, if you have the time, why don’t you sit down and wait with me? We can order you some miso ramen and an iced coffee. When Ellie shows up, we can find out the latest about the murder. You might be able to see things clearer than we can. And at the very least, you’ll have chowed down on some mighty good ramen. Oh, and I wish I could pay, but I’m a little tapped out now. Sorry.

You can read more about Character in Murder on Bamboo Lane, the first book in the new “Officer Ellie Rush” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The second installment of the Officer Ellie Rush series will be published in April 2015.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 28 for the chance to win a copy of MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

About the author
Naomi Hirahara, born and raised in Southern California, is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery NaomiHseries, which features a Japanese American gardener and atomic-bomb survivor who solves crimes (SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, GASA-GASA GIRL, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, BLOOD HINA, and STRAWBERRY YELLOW). She also has penned a middle-grade novel, 1001 CRANES, which was chosen as an Honor Book for the Youth Literature of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in 2009.

A former editor of the largest Japanese American newspaper in the U.S., she also has released a number of nonfiction works. A number of her short stories have been included in various anthologies, including LOS ANGELES NOIR.

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Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron

Designated DaughtersDesignated Daughters by Margaret Maron is the 19th book in the “Deborah Knott” mystery series. Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, August 2014

When Judge Deborah Knott is summoned to her ailing Aunt Rachel’s bedside, she assumes the worst. Thankfully when she arrives at the hospice center she learns that Rachel hasn’t passed; in fact, the dying woman is awake. Surrounded by her children, her extended family, and what seems like half of Colleton County, a semi-conscious Rachel breaks weeks of pained silence with snippets of stories as randomly pieced together as a well-worn patchwork quilt. But the Knott family’s joy quickly gives way to shock: less than an hour later, Aunt Rachel is found dead in her bed, smothered with a pillow.

Who would kill a woman on her deathbed? Was it an act of mercy, or murder? As Deborah and her husband, Sheriff’s Deputy Dwight Bryant, investigate they cross paths with an unlikely set of suspects: Rachel’s longtime minister; her neighbor, the respected local doctor; the friendly single father who often sought her advice; and perhaps the most puzzling party of all, the Designated Daughters, a support group for caregivers that Rachel’s own daughter belongs to.

Soon Deborah and Dwight realize that the key to solving this case is hidden in Rachel’s mysterious final words. Her mixed-up memories harbored a dark secret-a secret that someone close to them is determined to bury forever.

Who murdered Aunt Rachel? What words did she speak that caused someone to kill her? How did her Uncle die? Is there a connection? That’s what Dwight and Deborah set out to find in this character-driven drama that I could not put down until it was over. I love the comfortable tone and the way the book pulls me into the storyline, as I’m right there with the Knott clan. The mystery was good with plenty of suspects, who could have done the deed, and it was fun watching it all play out with secrets exposed and especially with the revelation of the killer’s identity. Boasting a great cast ensemble with engaging dialogue and the feel of good old-southern hospitality, this well-written drama is one of the best yet in this terrific series and I look forward to spending more time with Deborah Knott and her family and friends in their next adventures.