Yurie Kiri’s novel Moonlight Beach won the 2020 Hollywood Book Festival’s award for Genre Fiction. Moonlight Beach is about four friends who contact the spirit of a dead Native American woman and have to fight for their lives against the serial killer who had been chasing her.
The second book in the series, where two of the surviving women of Rancho California take a trip to New Mexico, is called Moonlight Canyon. The third book, called Moonlight Rocks is about a battle over a meteorite that may herald the birth of a new Messiah. Besides the “Moonlight” series, Yurie Kiri has also written a series of books about Japan and virtual reality games; the first book is called Tokyo Games.
Moonlight Beach, near the rich and sleepy town of Rancho California, has been the scene of a series of either brutal murders or shark attacks. One night, two more people are murdered on a cliff overlooking the beach and now organs are missing, organs that could have been used in a transplant operation to save a person’s life. Was it another random killing, murder for hire, or an attempt to extract a much-needed organ? Would someone really sacrifice a stranger’s life to give a loved one another chance at life? Rancho California’s leading venture capitalists want to start a company that provides human organs to people in need of transplants; could one of them be responsible? Then there’s a local group of witches who’ve seen and done a lot of strange things, first hand. What role do they play? Victims or perpetrators?
Please don’t think that this strange story about a series of murders, organ donors, witchcraft, and sex sprang from my feverish brain all on its own. I have a good imagination, but it’s not that good. The truth is, one night a few years back, I was sitting in Bolero’s, a Rancho California, patio-style Mexican Restaurant, nursing a margarita and waiting for an expensive Carne Asada taco plate when two women came in and sat down at a nearby outdoor table.
I don’t usually eavesdrop on other people’s conversations, but it was a slow night at Bolero’s and something about these women grabbed my attention and made me turn my head slightly so that I could hear them better. I think that the part of the women’s conversation that really made me sit up went something like this, “You were a close friend of hers, weren’t you? Tell me how she really died. No one deserved to be killed like what I heard…”
As you can imagine, I took my time with my food and margarita, all the while straining to hear and remember exactly what they said. Like I often do, I took a few notes on napkins and scraps of paper as discretely as possible. However, the women decided to move on, before the story was finished, since one of them had promised to meet another friend at Jake’s by the beach. I sadly watched them go but finished up and paid my bill as quickly as possible then I arranged my notes and filled in some of the blanks with what I could best remember.
After that, I went to Jake’s looking for them but sadly I never found them again. The story that they told was not finished, however, they had given me enough facts that I was able to fill in some of the remaining holes after some research. Although the following story was based upon the overheard conversation plus my research, it also contains assumptions that I’ve been forced to make. In some areas, the truth has been well covered up. As one of the women said that night, “You can’t believe how much money was paid to keep the details out of the local news…”