A buried family secret, a mysterious death, a damsel in distress (or so it would seem)—Aloha, Lady Blue has all the trappings of a good crime novel. Based, in part, on author Charley Memminger’s experiences as a former crime and investigative reporter at a Honolulu newspaper, Aloha, Lady Blue follows the story of Stryker McBride, a washed-up journalist seeking to uncover the mystery of what happened on Kahala Road—a road that doesn’t exist on any map.
McBride, who feels responsible for the death of one of his sources years ago, would be content to spend the rest of his days with “the gods,” as he calls them, two German shepherds named Kane and Lono, sipping Budweisers for breakfast while dry-docked on his boat, the Travis McGee. But he has little time to wallow after his help is enlisted by the beautiful Amber Kalanianaole Kam, a former Punahou classmate, who asks McBride to look into the mysterious death of her uncle Wai Lo Fat—a name that conjures up ties to the Chinese syndicate if there ever was one. What follows is an action-packed storyline that will leave you hanging on until the truth behind Kahala Road and what took place there is revealed.
A riveting whodunit for those familiar with Hawai‘i, as well as those who aren’t, Aloha, Lady Blue delivers visual soliloquies that take readers past sweeping taro fields and heart-stopping mountain ranges while incorporating factual elements with panache. Readers get a quick lesson in Hawaiian history, from Captain Cook—“whacked” after Hawaiians realized he wasn’t the manifestation of the god Lono—to Chinese plantation workers, for whom McBride tries to imagine “how bad life in your own country would have to suck before it seemed like a good idea to sail ten thousand miles to work in a strange foreign land under the hot tropical sun.”
Though it leans, at times, toward the melodramatic, with storylines that include subjects like genetic modification, weaponized toxins, and the blights of urban sprawl (“The entire transformation of O‘ahu from an idyllic, environmentally sensitive, sustainable agriculture-based society into a fucked-up mishmash of architectural and urban-planning bullshit,” as one urban planner tells McBride.), Aloha, Lady Blue is a fast-paced read that will have you turning its pages late into the night.
The book was originally published by St. Martin’s Press in 2013 and was released in paperback form in 2015. To mark its debut, Memminger has pledged to donate all author royalties from its book sales to the Hawaiian Humane Society. “I realized what an important job the Hawaiian Humane Society has, not just putting dogs and cats up for adoption, but taking care of all the animals in its care, as well as trying to close down illegal puppy mills, saving animals that are mistreated, and even arranging for noisy wild roosters to be caught,” Memminger writes in the paperback’s introduction. Memminger first became interested in helping the Humane Society after adopting his family’s first pet, Boomer, a poi dog with a strong hint of border collie, in 1995.
Aloha, Lady Blue is available in Hawai‘i wherever books are sold, as well as on Amazon and bookshawaii.net.
This story is part of our Companions Issue.