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Killer Roll

Chapter Five — Murder Menu

“The first official meeting of Yudai Investigations is called to order,” Yudai says as our fivesome make our way in a residential area of Mountain View. Instead of our typical donburi, Hector has made onigiri with leftovers in the middle. Som has one with a hotdog; Carrie, tofu; Yudai, carnitas; and me, tamagoyaki. Hector himself eats a burrito he has made at home. All of it can be eaten while walking.

Som stuffs his onigiri in his mouth and starts to pass out menus to each of us.

I don’t think that the detective agency work has anything to do with updating our menus, but then I take a second look at what he has passed out. On one side, it’s our typical menu—Yudai’s Corner at the top with different sections for appetizers, entrees, sushi combinations, and so on. But on the other side, it’s another thing entirely.

“You know British mystery shows are my thing, right?” he says, while chewing. I actually had no idea. “They always have a murder board that shows photos of the victim, the suspects, and the witnesses. This is my murder menu.”

Sure enough, there’s a photo of Ray DiPietro, although a much younger version. I recognize Kurt’s photo from an old Oshogatsu gathering and feel so sad. I still can’t believe that I’ll never see him again alive.

“Why am I on the menu?” There’s a candid of me flashing the peace sign.

“You are a witness, at the scene of the crime of these two murders. If I didn’t know you, I’d think that you probably would be a suspect, too, but of course, I won’t put you in that category.”

“Thank you, Som.”

“Okay, first. Ray DiPietro. Hector, you were supposed to talk to someone at San Jose PD.”

Hector wipes a bit of bean from the corner of his mouth. “Yeah, he didn’t know DiPietro but he did know something about the REACT unit. Pretty stuck-up bunch. Thought that they were better than the foot cops because they have degrees from fancy universities.”

Carrie, who’s wearing her Stanford sweatshirt, gives Hector a side eye.

“Hey, I’m just reporting what I heard.”

“How about you, Carrie? Anything on Oxford Strategies?”

“I’ve been asking the computer science majors about them. Nada. But the international relations major in my dorm seemed to be familiar with them. I think that they are headquartered in the UK.”

I nod. “Kurt used to go to England from time to time for company meetings.”

“Dig deeper, Carrie. Don’t you have some kind of supercomputer at Stanford?”

“Yes, sir!” Carrie salutes. We actually are all a little surprised about how much initiative that Som is showing. He never exhibited the same level of interest in busing dirty tables, but I can’t blame him.

Yudai has remained quiet this whole time, slowly chewing on the combination of sushi rice and carnitas.

“Boss, what are you thinking?” Som asks.

“The destruction of Maki’s apartment. Those bastards were looking for something.”

* * * * *

When Som drove me home last night, we indeed found my apartment completely turned over. I was most worried about Mochiko. Did the Bad Guys Who Are After Maki do anything bad to my cat? While walking through the wreckage of my apartment, I saw a flick of white move underneath my stove. I don’t know how he did it, but Mochiko had found the ultimate hiding place. It was a good thing that he was discovered before the oven was turned on.

Som, meanwhile, stumbled from room to room like he was a zombie. “You can’t stay here tonight,” he said.

Where were we going to go? Som lived with his parents, who seemed like devout Muslims. They weren’t going to understand him bringing home a Japanese woman who could be old enough to be his mother. “I can take the cat at least,” he offered, which actually what I was most worried about.

“I wonder if they found what they were looking for,” I said out loud.

“I doubt it,” Som said. “The way they trashed your place is actually a message. A message for you to give them what they want.”

I have no idea what that could be.

After considering the quick alternatives—taking me to Yudai Corner’s storage area on the second floor of the restaurant or checking me into a hotel (I don’t have that kind of money as the Silicon Valley hotels are sky high)—Som came up with a solution. To drop me off at Carrie’s dorm.

I thought that this was a ridiculous idea. I would be kicked out from the moment I walked in. Actually quite the opposite was true. Som had texted her that I was on my way. I had been on the Stanford campus one time when I helped to deliver sushi to an alumni event. It didn’t look anything like the campuses in Japan. It was so expansive with a quad and high tower that looked over Palo Alto. I had never been in such a place before.

Carrie’s dorm turned out to be quite different than I expected. It was called a self-op, a two-story boxy building with only about fifty people. The dorm had an open kitchen and hired its own chef for dinner and special events. Carrie had told me that’s where most of her dormmates congregated and sure enough, when I arrive she and about ten of them were there, talking around a large island with a wood surface.

Carrie immediately introduced me to her fellow students. “This is my aunt. She’s a graduate student here from Japan. They messed up her housing, so she’s going to crash with me for a few days.”




Nobody expressed surprise or discomfort. Just like that, I was in.

I walked around the kitchen. Shiny pots and pans hung from hooks against the wall. A block of knives that look nice and sharp. I can certainly spend some time here.

“She knows how to make sushi, guys.” Carrie gives me a quick wink. “Maybe she can make some at a special dinner. I don’t think Crowe will mind.”

Based on the looks of the students, I think this person, Crowe, might mind. He or she must be the resident cook.

Carrie sidled alongside of me while her friends continue to discuss something I don’t understand. “See, you’ll be safe here until we figure this out,” she said.

Looking back at the fresh faces of the twentysomething coeds, I just hope that I don’t bring any danger to their lives.

Chapter Six >>


© 2019 Naomi Hirahara

fiction Killer Roll maki mitchell mystery naomi hirahara restaurant sushi

About this series

Maki Mitchell, one of the few female Japanese chefs in the world, works at Yudai’s Corner, a sushi bar in California’s Silicon Valley. Still bruised from her divorce to an American man, she uncharacteristically lets down her guard to a male customer one evening. That seemingly random encounter leads her down dark paths involving high-tech hijinks and international espionage. Soon Yudai’s Corner becomes a full-fledged detective agency and all the employees ban together to not only solve murders but to also support and protect the life of their female sushi chef.

Read Chapter One