Death of an Origamist

Sachi Yamane, an emergency room nurse, escapes the pressure of life-and-death situations through the precise and calming world of origami. Attending an origami convention in Anaheim, California, she looks forward to meeting her idol, Craig Buck, a guru of not only origami but also life. Over the past two years, Sachi has gone through her set of losses—her husband’s fatal heart attack and unexpected deaths of some coworkers. Meeting Buck and being immersed in origami will again restore peace in Sachi’s life, or so she thinks. But as it turns out, the origami convention is not the safe haven that this sixty-one year old Sansei imagines it to be.

This is an original serialized story written for Discover Nikkei by award-winning mystery author Naomi Hirahara. 

Read Chapter One

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Chapter Twelve—Waiting Room

“Okay, the grace period is over.”

Sachi looked up from her Candy Crush game on her phone. “Huh?”

Her BFF Leslie placed a forlorn hardboiled egg wrapped in cellophane and a carton of coconut water on the table. She sat across from Sachi in the outside courtyard of the hospital. “It’s been a month. With Scott I gave you a whole year, because, well, he was your husband and the love of your life. But this guy, this guy only deserves two days. A week at best.”

Sachi regretted telling Les about Kenji. It had been a post-menopausal crush. Kind …

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Chapter Eleven—Making Connections

“Here, drink.”

Sachi’s hands were shaking. She was afraid that she would drop the water bottle and splash all over the paramedics’ blanket wrapped around her. But she was grateful to get some liquid in her to remove the taste of vomit from her mouth.

Of all people to come to her side, Jag Griffin was the last person she expected. Yet here he was, his hair a bit in disarray, a smashed shag rug.

She took a swig and then spit out the water onto the floor of the parking lot, almost wetting Jag’s expensive wingtips. “Sorry,” she weakly …

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Chapter Ten—The Innocents

Surprisingly, after learning that her flirtatious relationship with Kenji the bodyguard was based on secrets and lies, Sachi felt liberated. She hadn’t even considered any kind of romance after her husband Scott had died, but here her heart and body had been willing and open. She just felt thankful that she learned the truth before she had gotten in deeper. She was still standing. And alive.

From the hotel’s penthouse level, she took the elevator down to her room and got ready to leave. Normally she would take care to roll her clothing in tight, neat bundles to optimize space …

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Chapter Nine—Better Than She Seems

The two Orange County detectives then left Sachi’s hotel room, taking Kenji the bodyguard with them. “We want to ask you more questions,” Detective Flanagan told Kenji. “We want a minute-by-minute account of what you were doing while you were away from Mr. Buck the evening he died.”

Well, at least 27 or so of those minutes were with me at the hotel bar, thought Sachi. If only she could be transported back to that time when her biggest concern was making a mistake on an origami project. Kenji nodded his goodbye. “I’ll call you when this is over.” …

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Chapter Eight—Personal Matters

Jag Griffin sputtered like a malfunctioning garden hose. “Old lady, are you saying that I killed Craig Buck? You seemed incompetent before, but now I see that you’re delusional.” There were several of them in the hotel lobby, facing the two Orange County detectives.

Jag continued to unleash a slew of insults Sachi’s way, but the one that stung was his first one. Old lady. Sachi was 61 years and seven months old. Yes, almost eligible for Social Security, but certainly not an old lady.

“She’s right.” Kenji stepped in. Sachi couldn’t help but to notice how Kenji’s toned arms …

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