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Snakeskin Shamisen
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Snakeskin Shamisen

By Naomi Hirahara
2006, 255 pages, Paperback.
Book Description from Back Cover
Comments from Back Cover
About the Author

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Book Description from Back Cover

Summer of the Big Bachi to Gasa-Gasa Girl, Naomi Hirahara's acclaimed novels have featured one of mystery fiction's most unique heroes: Mas Arai, a curmudgeonly L.A. gardener, Hiroshima survivor, and inveterate gambler.

Few things get Mas more excited than gambling, so when he hears about a $500,000 win-from a novelty slot machine!-he's torn between admiration and derision. But the stakes are quickly raised when the winner, a friend of Mas's pal G. I. Hasuike, is found stabbed to death just days later. The last thing Mas wants to do is stick his nose in someone else's business, but at G.I.'s prodding he reluctantly agrees to follow the trail of a battered snakeskin shamisen (a traditional Okinawan musical instrument) left at the scene of the crime... and suddenly finds himself caught up in a dark mystery that reaches from the islands of Okinawa to the streets of L.A.-a world of heartbreaking memories, deception, and murder.

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Comments from Back Cover

"A unique voice in a genre cluttered with copycats."
-Rocky Mountain News

"What makes this series unique is its flawed and honorable protagonist. ... A fascinating insight into a complex and admirable man."
-Booklist (starred review)

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Background on Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara is the Macavity Award nominated author of two previous Mas Arai mysteries, Summer of the Big Bachi and Gasa-Gasa Girl. A writer, editor, and publisher of non-fiction books, she previously worked as an editor of The Rafu Shimpo, a bilingual Japanese American daily newspaper in Los Angeles. She earned her B.A. in international relations and spent a year at the Inter-University Center for Advanced Japanese Studies in Tokyo. She and her husband reside in her birthplace, Southern California. For more information and reading group guides, visit her Web site at

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Most recent revision June 13, 2006