Soho Crime. (Japantown Mystery, Bk. 2). Aug. 2023. 312p. ISBN 9781641293594. $27.95. M
Hirahara’s series about the Ito family’s experiences as detainees at the concentration camp Manzanar continues (after Clark and Division) as the family is finally allowed to return to their home in California. Aki Ito Nakasone has taken up work as a nurse’s aide at the Japanese Hospital in Los Angeles while she waits for her new husband Art to be discharged from the all-Nisei 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team. When she examines an elderly man who comes in for treatment of an infection, she notices his body is covered in bruises. Her shock magnifies when she recognizes his son—Babe Watanabe, Art’s best man at their wedding. Soon Aki and her family are embroiled in the mess Babe has made, adding to the tension between the reunited newlyweds. Art’s inability to share his war experiences and his PTSD drive them further apart.
VERDICT Once again, Hirahara illuminates the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II by embodying them in the lives of the Ito family. The author weaves a compelling tale, which is all the more poignant as it reminds readers of the shameful treatment of Japanese Americans, along with the racial prejudice still at work. A must-read.
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