10:44

I turned away from the panicked people in departures and looked Uncle Kentaro in the eye: “Thanks for never doubting me.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say never…” he said.
I poked him in the ribs.
“You are not the kind of person who can kill. But we have to find out who is. And when I say ‘we’ I mean you.”
“I’d feel a whole lot better about it if my picture wasn’t plastered everywhere on wanted posters.”
“It looks nothing like you. The truth is the best disguise, remember? No one will notice you if you keep your mouth shut and act like you belong here.”
“I do belong here,” I said.
“Glad to hear it. Now, your position is dire, but not fatal. The yakuza are coming, and you can’t stop them. The best you can hope for is favourable terms. You are Japan after the war. Defeated, exhausted, nothing left to give. The only choice was who to surrender to. The Yankees or the Commies. It was the nation’s good sense to choose the lesser of two evils. Now, it’s your turn. Yaks or cops, the decision is yours. Choose wisely.”
“Which is the lesser evil?” I said.
Uncle Kentaro sucked air through his teeth. “Cops have to play by the rules, but then, so do yaks. Find out what Emi’s mother was to them and you will be halfway to catching the killer. See what they have to offer. Meanwhile, I can hand Emi over to Blackmore and she can be out of the country before the yaks know it.”
“I’m not sure Mr. Blackmore wants to hear my voice again.”
“Fine. Send him a text message. Tell him to meet you somewhere public, this afternoon. Try the zoo. That leaves plenty of time for you to have lunch with the yakuza Shachou and find out what he knows.”
“Is that safe?”
“It’s safe as long as we have Emi. Come on, let’s get out of here.”
We were the only ones in our carriage for the trip back to Abiko. Uncle Kentaro spent it reading the adverts for tabloid scandal magazines while I sent messages. I texted Mr. Blackmore to go to Ueno Zoo at 3 p.m. That should give him time to get Emi to Narita Airport by 6:30 p.m. And Emi might even get a chance to see a panda before the journey home. And I arranged a lunch date with Shachou at Abiko’s premier American family restaurant.
As we parted on foot at Abiko Station, Kentaro held my shoulder. “Yakuza are dogs. They smell fear. Show none, and you will be their master. You can do it.”
“I wish I had your confidence.”
“You’ve got this far on your own, you can do the rest. But when the time comes…”
“Yes?”
“Run like hell.”
“Thanks.”
“Anytime.”

***

Start the novel from Chapter 1 here or use the next/previous arrow keys to flip through the book.

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That was a chapter of Half Life: A Hana Walker Mystery. I’m publishing a chapter a day in sequence on this blog to promote the book. You can buy HALF LIFE as a paperback from Create Space here or as a Kindle download from any Amazon site including links to the book here at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.jp.

The sequel, Prime Life, is coming out in the New Year.

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