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Evergreen: A Japantown Mystery Bets On...

Evergreen: A Japantown Mystery

August 2023

I read CLARK AND DIVISION two years ago and learned so much from the story of Naomi Hirahara’s character, Aki Ito, who moved to Chicago with her parents as part of a resettlement of Japanese people during World War II. In EVERGREEN, the family moves back to Los Angeles and finds that the places they once knew changed in their absence. There is an epitaph at the start of the novel that I recommend you read to get an idea of the enormity of what happened to these people. While I often think of these books as historical fiction, they slide easily into the class of mystery as each one has a murder that must be solved.

In EVERGREEN, Aki works as a nurse’s aide. One day, she sees an elderly man she knows who has been badly beaten. What has happened to him? She knows his son, who is a friend of her husband’s. Did he do this to his father? She works to sleuth out these clues, often heading towards a part of town where life is lived on the darker side. Aki is also a newlywed who has greeted a husband just back from war. And he is harboring his own nightmares of being gone. Naomi is a deft storyteller who quickly moves readers through the story, sharing history, family drama and everyday life.

Each novel works on its own. In combination, they bring readers a truly rich history of the times. They are the start of what Naomi and her publisher are calling the Japantown Mystery series. Future installments will not feature Aki but will continue to look at this area’s rich history. Much of the writing is pulled from Naomi’s own research, as well as that of her family. It would make for a great book group discussion!

» Watch my "Bookreporter Talks To" interview with Naomi Hirahara or listen to the podcast.

Evergreen: A Japantown Mystery
by Naomi Hirahara