Evergreen by Naomi Hirahara

Soho Crime hardcover and ebook, August 2023
Soho Crime trade paperback, July 2024

Bill Gottfried Memorial Lefty Award for Best Historical Mystery Novel

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?

Take a self-directed walking tour of Boyle Heights

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“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.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Hirahara expertly folds this crime story into her insightful and fully realized portrait of postwar America and the struggles of Japanese Americans to come to terms with the American society that had imprisoned them during the war… A thought-provoking noir with a searing period flavor.”
Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“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.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hirahara humanizes the struggles of Japanese Americans rebuilding their lives from scratch. Her evocation of Little Tokyo haunts will bring a flood of memories for some Angelenos while introducing a new generation of readers to a pivotal period in L.A. history.”
—Paula Woods, The Los Angeles Times

“I have long been a fan of Naomi Hirahara’s writing, but Evergreen may be my favorite of her novels. The mystery is set against the backdrop of Japanese Americans returning to their homes in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo after World War Ilas they try to rebuild their lives after either having been unfairly held in detention camps or fighting with the ‘Go for Broke’ battalion, with everyone dealing with different types of discrimination, fear, and trauma. The historical details are accurate, heartrending, and eye-opening.”
—Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of The Island of Sea Women

“Hirahara’s Clark and Division was one of the more accomplished crime novels in recent memory, and this year she’s following it up with Evergreen… [The novel] dives into the shadows of Boyle Heights and Little Tokyo to tell a story about one of the darker chapters of American history. With these books focused on the Japanese-American experience of post-WWII America, Hirahara has found a pivotal subject and brought her immense talents to bear.”
—Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads