Sue Ann Jaffarian
As the Berkley Prime Crime imprint celebrates its 20th anniversary, MGRB is delighted to host a trio of Prime Crime local authors. With three mystery series under her belt and a career as a paralegal, one might wonder when Sue Ann Jaffarian has downtime. Sue Ann waited until 1995 to undertake a career as a novelist, becoming a dedicated writer, and completing two novels before switching to the genre of mystery. With a background as a paralegal, writing mysteries seemed to fall into place. Ghost of a Gamble is the sixth book in the popular Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series.
Naomi Hirahara’s first book, Summer of the Big Bachi, was not only a finalist for Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize, but was also a nominee for a Macavity mystery award. Not bad for a debut! The former reporter and editor for The Rafu Shimpo wrote four more books in the Mas Arai series. Naomi’s latest book, Murder on Bamboo Lane, is the first book in the Officer Ellie Rush series, and features a 22 year-old LAPD bicycle cop. (See Sarah’s review on our website.)
Sue Ann and Naomi also sign in San Diego on Saturday 26 April 2014.
Spiritual medium Emma Whitecastle knows a good ghost when she feels one--like her own sweet Granny Apples, long gone but still as famous for her apple pies as she is for helping her great-great-great-granddaughter get to the core of the most baffling mysteries...
When Emma gets word of a sticky spirit problem in Las Vegas, she and the ghost of Granny Apples hit the road for Sin City. The spooked one is Dolly, a former showgirl. Dolly is haunted by Lenny, a dead Vegas hood worried about an aging mobster named Nemo coming after the leggy old bombshell. Dolly's playing dumb, but Emma's making a blind bet that she knows more about Nemo than she admits.
When Nemo is found dead, Dolly goes missing--and lands herself on a short list of suspects. Emma, Granny, and their pals comb Las Vegas to find her, only to discover the truth behind a casino heist gone bad, a hidden stash of stolen loot, and a missing wise guy who's not letting death come between him and setting things straight. And Emma and Granny Apples aren't about to fold until they save Dolly's neck and put her past to rest.
Trouble awaits rookie LAPD Officer Ellie Rush as she patrols the mean streets of Los Angeles on her bicycle...
Bike cop Ellie Rush dreams of becoming a homicide detective, but it's still a shock when the first dead body she encounters on the job is that of a former college classmate.
At the behest of her Aunt Cheryl, the highest-ranking Asian-American officer in the LAPD (a source of pride for Ellie's grandmother, but annoyance to her mom), Ellie becomes tangled in the investigation of the coed's murder--with equal parts help and hindrance from her nosy best friend, her over-involved ex-boyfriend, a smoldering detective, and seemingly everyone else in her extended family...only to uncover secrets that a killer may go to any lengths to ensure stay hidden.
"Snowflake, Vermont, is known for its skiing in winter--and its soup all year round, thanks to Lucky Jamieson's By the Spoonful. Autumn brings golden leaves, pumpkin rice soup, the annual Harvest Festival...and murder."
Lucky's soup shop is busier than usual this October, with groups of itinerant travelers in town to work the Harvest Festival. One newcomer seems to take a particular interest in Lucky's young waitress, Janie, spying on her from across the street. Is the stranger stalking Janie?
After an unidentified man is found murdered in a van by the side of the road, simmering suspicions about the travelers are brought to a boil. But when Janie is put in harm's way, Lucky must join forces with the travelers to turn up the heat on a killer...
Imagine spending eternity with your backside hanging out--that's what Emma Whitecastle and Granny Apples can't help but think when they meet the ghost of Tessa North frolicking in the surf off Catalina Island. Tessa, a young starlet who died on the island in the 1960s wearing nothing but a polka dot bikini, won't cross over until "Curtis" comes for her. To help the winsome, bikini-clad spirit, Emma and Granny must find out who Curtis is and how Tessa died. Their investigation takes them from the grit and glamour of Hollywood to Kennedy-era political intrigue-before hitting dangerously close to home.
Along with a sprinkling of history, this spirited new mystery series features the amateur sleuth team of Emma Whitecastle and the spirit of her pie-baking great-great-great-grandmother, Granny Apples.
Emma Whitecastle would rather spend time with her boyfriend than help Joanna Reid get rid of her husband's ghost. But when she finds out Joanna's daughter has broken her engagement and attempted suicide, Emma and Granny Apples are compelled to investigate.
The multifaceted mystery unfolds in Hollywood, where a vengeful spirit strikes too close for comfort as Emma and Granny unearth a clue hidden in a haunted diamond. When the case leads Emma and a suave stranger to the historic mining town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, Emma must call upon a ghostly group of Molly Maguires to ease the pain of a century-old marriage gone bad.
In the foothills of Pasadena, Mas Arai is just another Japanese-American gardener, his lawnmower blades clean and sharp, his truck carefully tuned. But while Mas keeps lawns neatly trimmed, his own life has gone to seed. His wife is dead. And his livelihood is falling into the hands of the men he once hired by the day. For Mas, a life of sin is catching up to him. And now bachi--the spirit of retribution--is knocking on his door.
It begins when a stranger comes around, asking questions about a nurseryman who once lived in Hiroshima, a man known as Joji Haneda. By the end of the summer, Joji will be dead and Mas's own life will be in danger. For while Mas was building a life on the edge of the American dream, he has kept powerful secrets: about three friends long ago, about two lives entwined, and about what really happened when the bomb fell on Hiroshima in August 1945.
A spellbinding mystery played out from war-torn Japan to the rich tidewaters of L.A.'s multicultural landscape, this stunning debut novel weaves a powerful tale of family, loyalty, and the price of both survival and forgiveness.
From the time she was a child, Mas Arai's daughter, Mari, was completely gasa-gasa-never sitting still, always on the go, getting into everything. And Mas, busy tending lawns, gambling, and struggling to put his Hiroshima past behind him, never had much time for the family he was trying to support. For years now, his resentful daughter has lived a continent away in New York City, and had a life he knew little about. But an anxious phone call from Mari asking for his help plunges the usually obstinate Mas into a series of startling situations from maneuvering in an unfamiliar city to making nice with his tall, blond son-in-law, Lloyd, to taking care of a sickly child...to finding a dead body in the rubble of a former koi pond.
The victim was Kazzy Ouchi, a half-Japanese millionaire who also happened to be Mari and Lloyd's boss. Stumbling onto the scene, Mas sees more amiss than the detectives do, but his instinct is to keep his mouth shut. Only when the case threatens his daughter and her family does Mas take action: patiently, stubbornly tugging at the end of a tangled, dangerous mystery. And as he does, he begins to lay bare a tragic secret on the dark side of an American dream....
Both a riveting mystery and a powerful story of passionate relationships across a cultural divide, Gasa-Gasa Girl is a tale told with heart and wisdom: an unforgettable portrait of fathers, daughters, and other strangers.
From Summer of the Big Bachi to Gasa-Gasa Girl, Naomi Hirahara's acclaimed novels have featured one of mystery fiction's most unique heroes: Mas Arai, a curmudgeonly L.A. gardener, Hiroshima survivor, and inveterate gambler.
Few things get Mas more excited than gambling, so when he hears about a $500,000 win-from a novelty slot machine!-he's torn between admiration and derision. But the stakes are quickly raised when the winner, a friend of Mas's pal G. I. Hasuike, is found stabbed to death just days later. The last thing Mas wants to do is stick his nose in someone else's business, but at G.I.'s prodding he reluctantly agrees to follow the trail of a battered snakeskin shamisen (a traditional Okinawan musical instrument) left at the scene of the crime...and suddenly finds himself caught up in a dark mystery that reaches from the islands of Okinawa to the streets of L.A.-a world of heartbreaking memories, deception, and murder.
The fourth installment of the Mas Arai mystery series and the precursor to "Strawberry Yellow," "Blood Hina" is now in paperback for the first time.
Mas Arai's best friend Haruo is getting married, and he has grudgingly agreed to serve as best man. But when the ancient Japanese doll display that belongs to Haruo's fiancee goes missing, the wedding is called off with fingers pointed at Haruo. To save his friend's life, Mas must untangle a web of secrecy, heartbreaking memories, and murder dating all the way back to the Japanese American detention centers of World War II and drug-running of the 1980s.
Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, including "Strawberry Yellow," "Snakeskin Shamisen," "Gasa-Gasa Girl," and "Summer of the Big Bachi." Her books have earned such honors as the "Chicago Tribune"'s Ten Best Mysteries and Thrillers and "Publishers Weekly" Best Book of the Year.
Curmudgeonly Japanese American gardener and unwitting detective Mas Arai is back in this fifth in the Edgar Award-winning series. Naomi Hirahara has created a memorable protagonist unlike any other: a Hiroshima survivor, Los Angeles gardener, widower, gambler, grandfather, and solver of crimes. In "Strawberry Yellow," he returns to the strawberry farms of his youth and encounters family intrigue, danger, and murder.
The series' most compelling and evocative mystery yet is set in the strawberry fields of Watsonville, California, where young Mas first arrived as a Hiroshima survivor in the 1940s. He returns for the funeral of a cousin and quickly gets entangled in the murder of a young woman. Was his cousin murdered, too? Mas has to figure out what happened, keep himself safe, and uncover the mystery of the Strawberry Yellow blight and a new strawberry varietal so important that it could be inspiring a murderer.
Naomi Hirahara is an engaging speaker who's always a hit at bookstore and mystery events. She's very active in the Japanese American community in California and is a past president of the southern California chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. She won the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original Mystery for "Snakeskin Shamisen," the third in the Mas Arai series.
"Even a town called Snowflake, Vermont, has a summer season. In August, Lucky Jamieson's By the Spoonful serves chilled soups--celery and green onion, cream of asparagus--and salads. The shop also serves as a gathering place to talk about cold-blooded murder...
"A protest to stop the construction of an ugly car wash in the middle of the town's picturesque Village Green is interrupted by the discovery of a skeleton that may date back to the Revolutionary War. While the remains pose a historical mystery, a present-day murder shakes the town to its core when local auto mechanic Harry Hodges is found dead in his shop.
Straining the patience of Chief of Police Nate Edgerton, Lucky soon finds herself in the soup again when her dear friend Elizabeth, the Mayor of Snowflake, goes missing. No matter how much trouble she has to stir up, Lucky is determined to use her noodle to uncover a killer and recover her friend...
"Winter is big business in small-town Snowflake, Vermont. Tourists arrive to hit the ski slopes--and what could be more satisfying after a chilly day of carving powder than a steaming bowl of soup?
When Lucky Jamieson inherits her parents' soup shop, By the Spoonful, she realizes it's time to take stock of her life. Should she sell her parents' house or move in herself? Does she really want to run a restaurant business? And what about her grandfather Jack, who seems to be showing signs of Alzheimer's?
But her life decisions are moved to the back burner after an icy blonde tourist is found frozen to death behind the soup shop. and Lucky is bowled over when her soup chef, Sage DuBois, is led out of the kitchen by the police. As suspicion and speculations snowball, Lucky decides that the only way to save her employee and her business is to find out herself who iced the tourist--and landed her chef in the soup...