Review: Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara

June 18, 2014 Reviews 2 Comments

Review: Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi HiraharaMurder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara
Series: Officer Ellie Rush Mystery #1
Genres: Detective Mystery
Published by Berkley on 1 April 2014
Pages: 304
Reading Challenges: 2014 Mid Year COYER
One StarOne StarOne Star


Ellie Rush knows that her family and friends think that being a bicycle cop is a bit of a joke but she’s determined to make a difference in between policing port-a-potties and citing truants. She gets rather a nasty shock when the first dead body she stumbles upon turns out to be that of a girl she knew. Ellie gets caught up in the investigation at the behest of her aunt, a high ranked LAPD officer.

Ellie is a half Japanese American with a fairly unusual family that keep interfering in her life. Hirahana probably needs to watch how much she allows Ellie to go off and do her own thing while still maintaining the verisimilitude of her role as a police officer. Ellie often withheld information from her superiors including the detective in charge of the case and her aunt but had no qualms about sharing everything with her friends and ex-boyfriend. This action seemed even more bizarre as Ellie sensed her ex was withholding information about the dead girl.

It’s a sad indictment of the justice system that most people trusted Ellie in spite of the fact she was a cop rather than because of her profession. Her friends were often on hand to give her nudges in the right direction and smooth the way when it came to a wary informant. This juxtaposed nicely with her treatment at the hands of Detective Cortez who treated her like the newbie cop she was.

There is a lot to like about this novel but there were too many sub-plots going on. Some revealed quite a bit about Ellie’s personality but others were completely superfluous like the awkward fledgling romance which didn’t really value add. I found the use of present tense throughout a little jarring as it made Ellie’s motions more mechanical and her reflection a little harder to absorb. This is a personal preference though and may not bother you at all.

The strongest aspect of this novel would have to be the richness of the setting. I felt like I wasn’t just reading about Los Angeles but was actually riding alongside Ellie and dodging the piles of refuse in the bike lanes. I also really enjoyed the murky politics aspect as Ellie began to realise just how many people were willing to sacrifice her career for their own benefit.

There were some aspects that didn’t quite gel for me but overall this was a really solid read. I enjoyed my time investigating with Ellie and will happily read the next in the series.

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