Aloha, Lady Blue: A Mystery
by Charley Memminger
Cover Artist: Photo: Boat by Inmagine: palm trees by Holbox/Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250007780
Date: 22 January 2013 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Publisher's Author Page / Show Official Info /
The wealthy, spoiled Amber Kalanianole Kam, a former classmate, begs Stryker to investigate the death of her Chinese-American grandfather, Wai Lo Fat, who supposedly drowned in his taro field in the middle of Kala Lane Estates. Soon afterwards, Stryker discovers a conspiracy of Chinese-Americans and U.S. Army personnel that can be traced back to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Aloha, readers! You are destined to enjoy a wonderful summer vacation when reading Charley Memminger's unique mystery debut, Aloha, Lady Blue, which is set on the luscious Hawaiian island of Oahu. Memminger has a flair for describing tropical locales, recreational pastimes, and historical landmarks. He also provides the reader with a crash course on the settling of the islands, beginning with the aborigine Polynesians, continuing with the Conquistadors and concluding with numerous Asian ethnic groups. The story's hero, Stryker McBride, is an affable man who participates in a lot of water sports such as surfboarding and sailboat racing; he also likes to drink Budweiser, and he can do it without always getting drunk, unlike the lawyer in Douglas Corleone's best-selling Kevin Corvelli novels, which are also set in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The author and the hero of Aloha, Lady Blue both have a dark sense of humor. Several times, Stryker recounts with morbid curiosity the death of Amber's father, Clarence Lo Fat, who enjoyed hand gliding off 'perfectly good' cliffs while releasing colored smoke. One of the pyrotechnic canisters on his hand glider exploded and he plummeted into Sea World Hawaii's porpoise pool, killing himself, a porpoise and its rider during a crowded performance. Sometimes the humor can be extremely perverse. For example, there is a bar, Club Buy Me Drinkee, which is owned by a six-foot-eight former professional football player who is now a drag queen. You'll have to buy the novel in order to learn why he is nicknamed the Enola Gay. I can't print it here without being reprimanded. Neither can I tell you the bizarre motivational technique that Mary Ann Morgan, CEO of the Honolulu Men's Health and Wellness Academy, employs in order to help her wealthy clients lose up to fifty pounds and keep it off. Hint: Most men will do anything, even starve themselves, in order to get one of these.
There is the typical assortment of strange characters that populate most crime novels, many of which have silly nicknames. The largest guy is called Tiny, Tiny Maunakea; he's a hit man who speaks as though he is British born and Harvard educated in classic literature. Tiny works for Auntie Kealoha, the sweet, plump, elderly woman who is known as Hawaii's Grandmother of Crime. The hero's sidekick is a former police officer, Blue Ho'okane, a native Hawaiian who surfs and speaks pidgin. Readers should be prepared to hear bruddah many times. There is also the promiscuous girl, Amber Kam, who manipulates the hero by sleeping with him; afterwards, she cruelly dumps him. Fortunately, Stryker's real love interest is the Honolulu Medical Examiner, Dr. Melba McCall. One of the strangest characters is Franky Five Fins, a surfing religious fanatic who is also a notorious hit man; his death was listed as a suicide even though his corpse was found inside a bullet-riddled barrel.
What began as a sun-drenched noir slowly evolved into a bizarre mystery that involves secret organizations, viruses and military conspiracies that can be traced back to World War II. Charley Memminger's Aloha, Lady Blue is highly recommended for fans of crime drama, especially those that are humorous, such as Douglas Corleone's Kevin Corvelli novels (One Man's Paradise, Night on Fire, and Last Lawyer Standing, which I have read and highly recommend.
Also, Aloha, Lady Blue is recommended for fans who love mysteries set in exotic locations, but don't want to leave the United States--in mind as well as in body. I'm hoping this novel is the beginning of a wonderful series. Until the next installment, I will say, "Aloha!"