Even through the tobacco-stained windows of Uncle Kentaro’s place I could easily make out the red and white JAL logo on the side of the jumbo jet as it streaked across the sky, high above Lake Teganuma, heading toward the Pacific.
But Emi didn’t notice the plane. She was humming a song to herself as she scrubbed the genkan entrance to Kentaro’s house with salt and water. Kentaro didn’t notice the plane, he was listening to Aunt Tanaka as she praised Emi, something she’d been doing every day for the past month.
“She’ll make a fine priestess one day. She has the temperament. You are a very lucky man,” she said.
“How right you are, Tanaka-san, on both counts.”
When Aunt Tanaka had gone back to her home at the bottom of the hill, Uncle Kentaro unfolded a sheet of paper from his pocket.
“Look at this, Hana. I got it from the Abiko police koban.”
I sighed. The less I had to do with policemen the better.
“Aoi was five when she disappeared from the street outside her Abiko home in 1997. Nobody has seen her since, the police have no leads. But they do have a ¥10 million reward.”
“Great. I’m still waiting for them to decide whether they are going to pay me the ¥10 million for catching Blackmore.”
“Well, technically Shachou caught him. With a bullet. And the cops can hardly pay public funds to the top yakuza in Abiko. That would be somewhat illegal. Anyway, this Aoi girl. Do you think she knows she’s been abducted? Where is she now? What do you think her parents are going through every day not knowing the truth? You are pretty good at uncovering the truth Hana, and this needs to be solved.”
I sighed again. “If she’s still alive.”
“If she’s still alive.”
He passed me the flier. A blurry snapshot of a little girl in the grey empuku uniform of a kindergarten school. She had a bowl cut and a single topknot tied with a pink ribbon. She was too shy to look straight at the camera.
She’d be 20 this year.
“Interested?” Uncle Kentaro said.
Start the novel from Chapter 1 here or use the next/previous arrow keys to flip through the book.
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.