Bike cop Ellie Rush dreams of becoming a homicide detective, but it’s still a shock when the first dead body she encounters on the job is that of a former college classmate.
At the behest of her Aunt Cheryl, the highest-ranking Asian-American officer in the LAPD (a source of pride for Ellie’s grandmother, but annoyance to her mom), Ellie becomes tangled in the investigation of the coed’s murder—with equal parts help and hindrance from her nosy best friend, her over-involved ex-boyfriend, a smoldering detective, and seemingly everyone else in her extended family…only to uncover secrets that a killer may go to any lengths to ensure stay hidden
I picked this book up while meandering through Barnes and Noble during a study break, and I was initially hooked by the cover art. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Murder on Bamboo Lane contained an intriguing mystery as I followed Bike Officer Ellie Rush’s investigation through the Southern California streets.
Ellie Rush is a strong, hardheaded character who is determined to follow the footsteps of her influential aunt and become a police investigator. But she is stuck working as a bike cop until she identifies the body of a former classmate. Ellie is drawn into an investigation that covers multiple socio-economic classes and reaches into another country. Readers are left rooting for the stubborn Ellie as she struggles through opposition from friends, family, and suspects.
The story focuses on Ellie’s growth from an insecure post-graduate to a confident career focused woman. So, at times her behavior can be rather frustrating. I sympathized with the young woman who was struggling against the negativity expressed by both family and friends at her career decision, but it frustrated me that she continued to return to her ex-boyfriend who verbally abused her throughout the story. I found myself yelling ‘NO, DON’T GO,’ at Ellie on multiple occasions, but I understand that the ex was needed to advance the story and their relationship is an essential aspect of the ‘who-dunnit’ finale. Hirahara has developed a complex character with Ellie Rush; she is flawed and insecure but is still someone who fights to discover. It is definitely worth sticking it out til the end because Ellie does grow into a strong appreciative character who eventually recognizes those willing to fight for her.
Side-note: Be prepared to read Murder on Bamboo Lane with a thick skin if you are easily insulted by the whole ‘cops are pigs and only serve to oppress the masses’ mentality. All of Ellie’s friends consider her a traitor for her career choice; a number of the villains are cops, or elected political officials. The ‘cop hatred’ got old really quick, but I understand that I am quite sensitive to this opinion. Hirahara utilizes this cultural difference to strengthen Ellie’s character; I am impressed that the young woman is fighting against such harsh social stigma!
This is a great cozy mystery that left me guessing til the very end! Join Ellie on her bike ride to justice through the So-Cal Asian community. I know that will be picking the next book up as soon as it is published because I can not wait to see what Ellie’s future holds! Take the time to visit Naomi Hirahara’s website at www.naomihirahara.com and let me know what you think of Murder on Bamboo Lane or this review!