Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Murder on Bamboo Lane on Tour (+Giveaway)

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Naomi Hirahara to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about her latest release, MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE, the first installment in her new Officer Ellie Rush Mystery series.

Naomi joins us to tell where Ellie Rush came from and I’ll share my thoughts on this fun new series. In addition, Naomi is giving away a print copy of MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.

Here’s a brief synopsis of MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE:

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.  

Please join me in welcoming Naomi to talk about ‘Finding Ellie Rush.’

For the past five mystery novels, I’ve been in the head of a man significantly older than me (although as the years pass, that gap is closing in!). His name is Mas Arai, a gardener in Southern California, Hiroshima survivor, and, of course, a reluctant detective. Mas was modeled after my father and men like him – working class and seemingly ordinary on the outside, but with intricate secrets and strength within.

In April of this year, I’m embarking on a very different mystery protagonist, Ellie Rush. She’s, well, first female and considerably younger, 23 years of age. And the biggest challenge for me – she’s a bicycle cop with the LAPD assigned to downtown Los Angeles’s central core.

Don’t ask me the last time I’ve ridden a bicycle, but take my word for it, I can. And in terms of shooting a gun, I have. In 2011, the same year my beloved father was battling terminal stomach cancer, I participated in a Southern California-based ATF Citizens Academy once a week for two months. There we learned about the hidden perils of cigarette smuggling (usually this crime is linked to more dangerous international gang syndicates), the adventures of going undercover, and how to follow an arson trail. 

9780425264959_medium_Murder_on_Bamboo_LaneProviding a brief break from sharing caregiving duties with my mother, these sessions let me escape into the shoes of someone completely different from me. We even donned earpieces and stuffed wireless radios in our jackets to do surveillance at a local mall, wore bulletproof jackets and aimed pellet guns inside an abandoned office which, for our pretend purposes, was supposed to be harboring suspects, and finally went to an outdoor gun range, where we shot firearms of various sizes.

The biggest eye-opener for me is how essential it is for law enforcement officers to work together as a team. But what about the lone rogue detective that we see so much on TV, the movies, and novels? In crashing a drug pad, often the Number Two ATF man or woman has to pull the collar of the person in front. “Hey, not so fast!”

As a lover of basketball, I could totally relate to team coordination. Everyone has a certain role and purpose. I had always viewed law enforcement as powered by adrenalin and emotion, but for it to work properly, quite the opposite is true.

During that same year, I also agreed to step in as an instructor of a UCLA undergraduate writing workshop. As I gazed at the beautiful, fresh faces of these 15 young people, I was transported to my college days, when despite a sluggish economy, we also remained optimistic about our futures.

Somehow these two experiences – the ATF Citizens Academy and the UCLA writing class – intertwined in my brain. The following year, my father passed away in a hospital bed in the room where he had watched his favorite samurai and Japanese soap opera programs on TV for decades. As I struggled with this great loss, I grappled with focusing on something new and young. Slowly this young woman, Ellie Rush, emerged – vibrant and enthusiastic, yet still wondering how she would make her mark on this world.

While the tone of the Office Ellie Rush mysteries are much lighter and breezier than my Mas Arai mysteries, there are still some common elements. I still want to take my readers on a tour of lesser known areas in my “homeland” of Los Angeles. And family and friends are important to both – although cranky Mas will not admit it publicly.

Ellie has her first mystery adventure in Chinatown, so the first book is titled MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE. Hope you might want to take a ride with her, and it won’t matter when you were last on a bicycle.

Naomi, thanks so much for sharing this look at how Ellie came to be. Your father sounds like he was a great influence in not only your life, but your writing.

Now let me share a bit of background on Naomi.

Naomi is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mysteries. The first book in her Officer Ellie Rush Mysteries has been released by Berkley Prime Crime and is available in both mass market and eBook format.

For more information on Naomi and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Now here are my thoughts …..


Being drawn into an unfamiliar setting, meeting new characters, and taking a fascinating journey are all part of the fun reading the first installment in a new series.

Author Naomi Hirahara doesn’t disappoint in her new cozy murder mystery, MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE, the first book in her Office Ellie Rush Mystery series. Hirahara introduces readers to a fun and determined young protagonist, Ellie Rush, an LAPD bike cop.

Ellie Rush may be a bike cop but when her college friend Jenny is found dead, she’s determined to help find her killer. Working with the handsome lead detective Cortez Williams, Ellie soon discovers there may be more to Jenny’s murder than first thought. The more they investigate, the more complex the case becomes taking readers on a roller coast ride of possible suspects and motives.

The author has created a well-blended cast of characters that readers will find likable, realistic and compelling. Their diverse backgrounds adds depth and richness to the story.

Readers are given a glimpse into Chinatown and various parts of L.A. through the vivid descriptions by Hirahara. Her eye for details and intricate accounts places the reader among the characters.

MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE moves at a good pace holding the reader’s attention. This is a riveting start to what promises to be an alluring new series.

Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara, An Officer Ellie Rush Mystery Book #1, Berkley Prime Crime, @2014, ISBN: 978-0425264959, Paperback, 304 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher as part of the author’s virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


This giveaway is for one print copy of MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE and is open to residents of the U.S. only. To enter the contest simply click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. Be sure to include your email address in your comments, if it’s not included in your profile. The widget may take a few second to load, please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today to visit with Naomi. When was the last time you rode a bicycle? Have you ever been to Chinatown?
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Naomi, thanks again for joining us. Learning how stories come to be is always intriguing. Wishing you much success.

  2. Very sorry about your father, Naomi. Glad those two experiences gave you a focus, and now the world gets your book.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Naomi.

    Naomi - I am sorry for your loss. I think writers' work is deeply affected by their experiences, and I'm glad you found a way to keep moving as you were coping with your sorrow. This is an interesting premise, and I wish you much success.

  4. It has been awhile since I have rode a bicycle but I used to love going on bike rides.

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  6. What a great interview! And how terrific to get hands-on experience like that. Looks like I'm going to be adding smoe new books to my TBR pile! They sound like such great fun! And I haven't ridden a bicycle for more than 30 years. I'm really a top-down convertible girl.

  7. Riding a bike as a cop would be challenging, I think. Great detail.

    Your books sounds awesome. I'm glad your dad lives on in you and your work.

  8. What a thought provoking post today. I am intrigued with this book. I have been to Chinatown in Mtl. and have ridden a bike but not recently. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Great idea for a book! Bicycles can get to so many places quickly around traffic. Sounds like a good mystery too. Ronnalord( at) msn ( dot) com

  10. It's been decades since I've ridden a bike. The last Chinatown I visited was in Montreal, also years ago. Ellie Rush sounds like an interesting character. Thanks for the post and giveaway.

  11. congrats to Naomi on her new book

  12. It has been twenty years since I have been on a bike, health reasons.

  13. I rode my bike last weekend, but I've never been to Chinatown although I would love to visit!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  14. My condolences on the loss of your father.

    Murder on Bamboo Lane sounds terrific. Best of luck.

  15. I have never been to Chinatown but I did ride my bike last summer. Nothing exciting, just neighborhood/park riding! Nice post, I'm glad she found Ellie Rush, the book sounds great.

  16. I have never been to Chinatown but have always wanted to go! The last time I was on a bicycle was a disaster. Who ever said that "it's like riding a bicycle, " was lying!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.