Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Cozy Mystery Blog Tour: Author Guest Post, Review & Giveaway: Grave on Grand Avenue (Officer Ellie Rush #2) by Naomi Hirahara

LAPD bicycle cop—and aspiring homicide detective—Ellie Rush is back on patrol in the newest mystery from the award-winning author of Murder on Bamboo Lane.

Ellie stops for a friendly chat with gardener Eduardo Fuentes while patrolling one of Los Angeles’s premier concert halls. A few minutes later she’s shocked to discover him lying at the bottom of a staircase, clinging to life and whispering something indecipherable. Nearby, the father of Xu, a Chinese superstar classical musician, claims Fuentes was knocked down while attempting to steal his son’s multimillion-dollar cello—a story Ellie has trouble believing.

Meanwhile Ellie has issues of her own to deal with—like the curious theft of her car, a 1969 Pontiac Skylark. But after the gardener takes his last breath and Xu mysteriously disappears, it’s clear to Ellie she must act quickly before someone else falls silent. 

Never Making First Chair
By Naomi Hirahara

I’ve a big believer of doing things that you’re not good at. I’ve completed a few half-marathons (I’ve since retired), and been left in the dust by women who have been twenty years older than me. A rusty set of golf clubs sit in my garage, a reminder of the many divots I’ve left in local golf courses. And a bowling bowl with my name, “NAOMI,” engraved on the surface is a memento from the days that I proudly held a 113 average in a company league.

Another thing that I never excelled in was music. There was the piano, followed by the guitar and the cello. I took up the cello in junior high school. To me, the violin seemed too common; the viola, too obscure. I was less than five feet tall (still am), so the upright bass was out of the question. But the cello – that rich, honey-hued instrument – I was immediately attracted to it.

A small girl carrying around a cello around school was a ripe target for comments: “What, you got a machine in there?” “That thing is bigger than you are.” But I didn’t care. I loved the cello, and I wasn’t alone. There was a whole row of us, including one of my good friends, Denise Blanco, who had also adopted the instrument in our orchestra.

I enjoyed the process of preparing the instrument. Of lengthening the metal endpin to suit my height. The tightening of the strings and the rubbing rosin on the strings of the bow. But when I actually played, the sound that I encountered wasn’t what I heard from my fellow cellists. My cello, a rental, moaned and mooed like a cow. The poor thing wasn’t happy with the things that I was doing to it.

In my latest Officer Ellie Rush mystery, GRAVE ON GRAND AVENUE, I’ve revisited my beloved instrument. But the cello in the novel is in the hands of a superstar Chinese musician, Xu. It sounds a lot better when Xu is playing, which is one of the powers and benefits of being a writer. Another advantage is to give props to your real friends, and in this book I have in the acknowledgments: “To Denise Blanco, who always was at least a chair ahead.”

I love a great mystery.  I also love music.  Throw them together and it's a perfect combination!  When I began this book, I never expected it to be as good as it was.  Not because Ms. Hirahara isn't a great writer, but because I never expected there to be such a great story!  It was exciting, fun and of course, had a central theme involving a beautiful musical instrument!  

Ellie was back at it in the kind of mystery you'd see unfold on a television drama.  I absolutely loved it, and loved being able to revisit this wonderful character and her world.  I am a huge fan of the fact that her world is a little darker and more intense than most cozy environments, which makes the story all the more thrilling for mystery lovers like myself.  

I truly enjoyed it, and now I can't wait for book number three! :) 

Rating: 4.5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All conclusions reached are my own.  

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Carol N Wong said...

So sorry that I missed this. I was in the hospital on that day. She is one of my favorite authors.

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