While it sometimes lacks tension, this terrorism tale expertly draws on portions of Hawaii’s history.

TERRORISM IN PARADISE

A historical novel focuses on murder and turmoil in 1920s Hawaii.

Grant Kingsley is the son of a sugar plantation owner in Honolulu. At the outset of the narrative, Grant; his brother, David; and their father, James, are set to meet with the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association. It is 1924, and labor relations in the sugar industry are not exactly amicable. A recent strike ended with deadly force, and things show few signs of improving. The planters insist they need to keep wages low for their product to compete on the international market, but the laborers demand better wages. The HSPA feels that the Kingsleys are too soft on their workers. Before discussions can progress, the unthinkable happens: An explosion occurs and James is killed. Who would perpetrate such an act? The HSPA believes that some disgruntled Japanese workers are to blame (“Japanese dynamiters are the culprits,” one man insists), but Grant feels otherwise. Grant, an attorney, decides to investigate. He helps his detective friend Chang Asing track down the killer. Many different ethnic groups—native Hawaiians, the Japanese, and Filipinos—have a reason to be upset with the HSPA, but would any of them resort to murder? It turns out the assassin is a communist named Miguel from the Philippines who has received KGB training. Will Grant and Asing be able to pick through all the thorny relations in Hawaii to stop Miguel before he strikes again? The main problem with Fernandez’s (Splintered Paddle, 2019, etc.) novel is that there is not much to unravel about who murdered James. Sure, Grant and the other characters do not know the killer or why he would resort to such means, yet readers do. Likewise, Miguel’s motivations are clear from the outset. As Grant and Asing collect clues, there is not as much tension as one might anticipate from a plot based on catching an assassin. The book’s excitement stems instead from the many facets of Hawaii’s past that play, in some way or another, into the bigger story. Many readers may not know much about the uneasy melting pot that was Hawaii at the time, and so, for those unfamiliar with, say, the 5-5-3 Treaty of 1922, there is certainly much to learn. From Hawaii’s past as a place ruled by royalty to the many ways the wealthy sugar planters attempted to manipulate their workers, the historical tidbits are weaved into the tale in entertaining ways. Even the history of the ukulele (which Asing plays well) makes an appearance in the narrative. Then there is the complex story of Miguel. How exactly does one become a devout, murderous communist in early-20th-century Philippines? Miguel may not be the most sophisticated villain (for instance, he declares matter-of-factly: “I cannot wait forever to have my vengeance against the killers of Filipinos”) yet his presence helps shed light on international relations at the time. After all, if a communist revolution could happen in a place as vast as Russia, who could stop it in a collection of islands like Hawaii, especially with so much conflict between classes?

While it sometimes lacks tension, this terrorism tale expertly draws on portions of Hawaii’s history.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9990326-8-8

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Makani Kai Media

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2019

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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