Hey, do a good thing for yourself, your friends and Hawaii literacy!

Go buy yourself – or your friends and family and teachers and coworkers and bosses and so on and so forth et al etc. – their own copy of this AWESOME book filled with AWESOME mystery stories carefully handwritten by AWESOME local writers (such as myself, of course).

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha

You and those to whom you give a copy will not only be lucky, blessed and prosper in the coming year, you will also support the efforts of Hawaii Literacy because all proceeds go to help fund their efforts.

So go buy copies and make YOURS and THE LIVES OF OTHERS AWESOME!!!


Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Tentacles of Death

After the tight focus of the other stories, this one feels sprawling. And sloppy: SWAT, Swat, swat – three different renderings of the same acronym? Yes.
It starts with a man murdered using a tako spear, apparently because his wife brought home the wrong picture from her Wine and Canvas event. Apparently the picture she brought home was actually a clue to a conspiracy by a large militant Native Hawaiian group (led by the obligatory evil maniac) to take over the state. Even at the end, when the maniac is caught, we’re told that this group has its deadly secret tentacles everywhere throughout the islands.

Nothing new here, with a strong trace of racism to it. And hypocrisy, since it was white American business men conspiring with the captain of a US Navy vessel in Pearl Harbor who took over the sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii using force. I regard this story as the usual “because we (white colonialists) are violent thieves that take things that belong to others, EVERYONE ELSE IS OUT TO DO THE SAME THING TO US!”

Bah. I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Not just for the racism, but also for the weak plotting and so-so characters. I might award this the booby prize as the worst story in the book.

Perhaps you’ll like it, anyway, so go buy your copy of the anthology, read it, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Palm It Off On Murder

In this one, the author a character, or at least bears the author’s name. The author likes to incorporate herself and her real boyfriend into her stories, so how much of the characters’ behavior and lives are real and how much are fictional? That adds a bit of fun to it.

The narrator is a chiropractor who’s also a master of Shaolin Temple Kung Fu. (Isn’t every chiropractor these days?) His girlfriend (who bears the author’s name) is a palmist. He prefers logical, scientific thinking, she prefers mystical thinking.

A new patient (referred by his girlfriend) dies of a drug overdose in his adjusting room. Turns out the heroin she was using was poisoned. The police visit his girlfriend’s home, and find a baggie of poisoned heroin taped underneath the girlfriends table after she was visited by a notorious drug dealer named Asian Ace. (That strangely enough, the police don’t seem to know what he looks like?)

The whole ‘scientific vs mystic’ thing is pretty simpleminded. If palmistry and such things are your thing, you’ll enjoy this story quite a bit. (Since she’s writing the story, you can guess which side “wins”.)

The story builds to a climax in which Asian Ace is set to poison the girlfriend as the chiropractor races to save her. To find out IF or how he saves her, buy your copy of Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha, and find out.

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Haunting Lono

This story is by Doris Chu, whom I have known since our Wednesday night writers group was meeting at the now-long-closed Borders store in Waikele ages ago. She’s a genius editor and creatively-imaginative writer with her own unique way of telling a story.

“Haunting Lono” starts out with that imagination. Our narrator is the Hawaiian demi-god Lono. What’s he doing? Paying bills! Yes, he owns a SCUBA diving business. First, he has to deal with a tourist’s daughter who decided she wants to be a mermaid, and knows kung fu so well she can concentrate weight until she’s so heavy no one can lift her from the bottom of the pool … where her dive tank is out of air!

He talks her out of being a mermaid (“Well, you have to eat underwater and poop there, too”), then we’re on to the main part of the story: recovering the body of a friend’s son, whose plane had crashed in the sea off of one of the islands, and figuring out just what happened.

Things are never quite what they seem in a Doris Chu story, and this one effortlessly and enjoyably continues the tradition. So go buy your copy of Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha immediately and dive into “Haunting Lono”. Yes, I’m so bad that the pun IS intended. 🙂

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – The Stranger

This story is by my beautiful, wonderful wife, a Goodness On The Face Of The Earth™ whom I love more than anything. So some may disregard whatever I say about it because of that fact.

Oh, well. Their loss.

This story is about what happens when you let sleeping secrets lie: They come lunging from the dark to grab you by the throat!

It starts on the windward side, charges through sibling rivalry, kidnapping, assault and battery, Honolulu rush hour traffic (the most horrifying beast in the world), near death on the freeway, then ends in a car crash. All the characters feel like real people. One even channels some of my late mother-in-law’s favorite phrases. Which I think is a delightful touch – my MIL was the absolute antithesis of the stereotye!

So go buy the Dark Paradise anthology, read Shauna’s story, and take another step toward making your life GLORIOUS!

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Wait For Me

Subtitled “A Danny Morales Mystery”, this mystery has it all. A murder that looks like the return of a long-thought-dead-but-never-caught serial killer, a PI who can see and talk with ghosts, the PI’s friend whose mother-in-law is murdered, clues and complications, characters who feel their emotions like real people, and a great twist ending. All set in Waikiki.

If you haven’t read a Danny Morales mystery before, you owe it to yourself to buy the anthology now and read this story. You will thank me. You’re welcome!

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Kaimuki Murder Mystery

A very-well done reweaving of the mystery in Hitchcock’s famous movie, Rear Window, into local community Kaimuki. (By the way, the author knows the movie inside and out.)

The narrator – a retired man who likes to observe things (so he built an observation tower/den on top of his house!) – sees the suspicious young man next door bury something in the backyard late at night. The narrator and his wife like movie role-playing, so the story goes along with frequent references to the movie as they play their parts to uncover a bloody murder.

If you like the movie, with some interesting variations on the characters, and enjoy the author’s deft gift for light comedy (which I do), go buy the anthology and enjoy the Kaimuki Murder Mystery. You won’t regret it!

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Choices

This entertaining and touching story is all about, well, choices.

Two local guys, Jonah and Kaha, grew up together. BFFs. Jonah chooses to rob a bank, using Kaha as the getaway driver without telling Kaha what he has planned. Kaha’s caught and charged with the robbery; Jonah isn’t caught. Kaha chooses to take the rap, leaving his wife and his growing kids (including young son Makaio) to struggle. Jonah struggles, too, making various choices until he’s killed in a bar fight. Makaio makes choices, too, especially when he and his friend Tom find the stolen money. Then they have to make a choice. But what choice do they make?

Even the reader gets to make a choice.

The characters are well-realized, their motivations understandable. Even the author becomes a character. It’s always good when authors are honest enough to admit that they’re in their stories, too.

So go buy the anthology and make your choice!

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – The Neighbor

A strange, gruff mainlander rents a house in a smal local neighborhood (feels very local Windward side to me). He’s a loner, does nothing with anyone else, rarely leaves his house, doesn’t even have a dog!

The man living in the house next door to him, on the other hand, is friendly, visits with people, and fits right in.

Which of them – or both – is a murderer? In Alan Gunn’s skilled hands, don’t be so sure you know …

So go buy the anthology, read the story, and take your guess!

Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha – Controlling Destiny

Just finished reading Gail M. Baugniet’s short story contribution to the anthology, “Controlling Destiny”. (Gail’s many other contributions such as coordinating the anthology, mentoring authors and editing, doing the design and layout, planning the marketing, etc, while simultaneously being Sisters In Crime chapter president AND managing her own career as author of the excellent Pepper Bibeau mystery series – are astounding!)

It’s possibly the best written of all the stories. Despite including much more than most of the stories, it’s very tightly done. Not a wasted word anywhere.

The narrator, a freelance journalist delightfully named Cacao (as a chocoholic, I heartily approve!), briefly meets a homeless woman (Remy) who is murdered a day later.

The mystery isn’t about the murder. Who did it and why is perfectly clear, with the perp in jail pending trial. The fact of pending trial makes Cacao’s investigation much tougher than the usual PI investigation because NOBODY will talk and risk tainting the trial.

The mystery is about how the homeless woman ended up on the streets. The answer isn’t any of the clichés or stereotypes about homeless people. Read this story and think about it before you go believing the crap Fox News and the malignancy known as the Republican Party spout about the homeless and the poor.

It’s set in a very realistic contemporary Honolulu, including how our local newspaper monopoly refuses to pay its reporters living wages. (Speaking of the poor.)

There’s a nice thematic connection between the end of Remy’s family, Cacao’s own extended family, and what might someday turn into a relationship/family of her own with a local police officer. Being set in Hawaii, where family and extended family is very important, added a cultural background that made this come through even more for me.

So go buy a copy of Dark Paradise: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha, and enjoy this story. And ping a thanks to Gail at her blog, Gail M. Baugniet – Author.