A Japanese American nurse's aide navigates the dangers of post-WWII and post-Manzanar life as she attempts to find justice for a broken family in this follow-up to the Mary Higgins Clark Award–winning Clark and Division.
It’s been two years since Aki Ito and her family were released from Manzanar detention center and resettled in Chicago with other Japanese Americans. Now the Itos have finally been allowed to return home to California—but nothing is as they left it. The entire Japanese American community is starting from scratch, with thousands of people living in dismal refugee camps while they struggle to find new houses and jobs in over-crowded Los Angeles.
Aki is working as a nurse’s aide at the Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights when an elderly Issei man is admitted with suspicious injuries. When she seeks out his son, she is shocked to recognize her husband’s best friend, Babe Watanabe. Could Babe be guilty of elder abuse?
Only a few days later, Little Tokyo is rocked by a murder at the low-income hotel where the Watanabes have been staying. When the cops start sniffing around Aki’s home, she begins to worry that the violence tearing through her community might threaten her family. What secrets have the Watanabes been hiding, and can Aki protect her husband from getting tangled up in a murder investigation?
Hirahara's insightful follow-up to 2021's Edgar-winning Clark and Division finds newly married Aki Nakasone returning to Los Angeles in 1946, two years after her family was forcibly relocated to the Manzanar internment camp in Illinois. Aki is working as a nurse's aide at the Japanese Hospital in Boyle Heights when a bruised and battered old man arrives. Suspecting he has been abused, Aki confronts the man's son—who turns out to be Babe Watanabe, her husband Art's best friend and the best man at her wedding. She never liked Babe, but resists the idea that he could be responsible for his father's injuries. When a shooting occurs at the sleazy hotel where the Watanabes are staying, Babe drops out of sight, and Art's friendship with the missing man brings the police to Aki's door. Fearing that her family may become further embroiled in a murder investigation, Aki sets out to locate Babe on her own. Drawing on rich historical detail, Hirahara provides a visceral account of the hardships facing Japanese Americans during and just after WWII, and her lucid prose elevates this above standard mystery fare. It's a memorable outing.