New Year’s Eve, 1934. While Honolulu celebrates with champagne and fireworks, someone is making away with the Bishop Museum’s portrait of King Kalakaua and its curator. A series of brutal murders follows, and an unlikely pair, newspaper reporter Mina Beckwith and visiting playwright Ned Manusia, find themselves investigating a twisted trail of clues in an attempt to recover the painting and uncover the killer. Honolulu in the 1930s is a unique (and volatile) mix of the provincial and the urban, East and West, islander and mainlander. Mina and Ned, both of Polynesian descent, confront the complexities and contradictions of Island life as their investigation takes them into the heart of Honolulu society and close-knit local families, whose intricate histories and relationships will have a direct impact on future lives and events. A lively cast of characters aids Mina and Ned in their search for answers: Cecily Chang, an antiques and explosives expert, steers them through Chinatown’s back alleys; Hinano Kahana, a hula chanter and dancer, brings Ned closer to solving an ancient riddle; Mina’s grandmother, Hannah, helps them unlock a secret from the past. Prewar Honolulu comes to life in this thoroughly entertaining mystery that evokes a colorful bygone era.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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