Aloha, Lady Blue
Review: Stryker, she said. "You might not remember me, but we went to Punahou together. My grandfather Wai Lo Fat died in a terrible accident a week ago. Stryker, I think I need your help." Stryker McBride does indeed remember Amber Kalanainaole Kam from the private high school they both attended, and agrees to meet her to learn more in Aloha, Lady Blue, the first mystery in this series by Charley Memminger.
Stryker is a former reporter for the Honolulu Journal but now lives on a dry-docked boat at the Bayview Yacht Club while acting as the club's informal night watchman. Actually, his two dogs Kane and Lono do more watching than he does. When he meets up with Amber at her Kahala estate, he asks her, Why me? "I read some stories about you," she says. "They made it sound like you are some untouchable Eliot Ness kind of newspaper reporter. You even got shot by the bad guys, right? I just thought I needed someone who wasn't afraid to take on the powerful." The powerful in this case, she believes, are her grandfather's real estate development associates, the very same ones who created the exclusive community of Kahala out of marsh, leaving an undeveloped area for a taro field, where her grandfather drowned. The police have ruled his death an unfortunate accident, but Amber doesn't believe it.
Stryker is a born storyteller and tell stories he does. Narrated from his perspective, he talks of his investigative activities — and everything else that happens in his daily life, starting from what he has for breakfast — all the while relating amusing anecdotes, providing backstories, reciting encyclopedic references, and more, most of these side stories interesting, many of them not really all that relevant. As such, it takes a long time for Aloha, Lady Blue to get going and even when it does, it really doesn't move along very quickly as Stryker continues to talk … and talk … and talk. No doubt some readers will find his prattling on entertaining; others may find it gets tiresome quickly. The murder mystery itself is far more complicated and convoluted than it should be or even needs to be; too, the way it develops and is resolved seems rather ill-suited for the character and not in keeping with the overall tone of the book. It almost comes across as if the author had an idea for a crime novel but then dropped it into a character-driven story using a voice he wasn't familiar with, incorporating a little of this taken from here with a little of that taken from there, hoping it all gels in the end. It doesn't miss by much, but miss it does.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided an ARC of Aloha, Lady Blue for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Aloha, Lady Blue: Hawaii
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Aloha, Lady Blue by Charley Memminger — A Stryker McBride Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: January 2013
List Price: $24.99