Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

Thank you for stopping by. I write mystery stories, most of which are set in Hawaii. My stories tend to be hard-boiled and somewhat dark. Hence the title “Hawaiian Noir.” One reviewer called my novel, The Splintered Paddle, “Hawaiian Noir at it’s best.” Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, as I did, that there must be other examples of this genre if The Splintered Paddle is the best. In fact, I had not even known of a genre called Hawaiian Noir. I did some research and found that, indeed, there is a movie that was dubbed “Hawaiian Noir.” The movie was Hell’s Half Acre (1954). The movie starred Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes, Elsa Lanchester, and Marie Windsor. After 63 years,it is time to kick some life back into this genre.

The subtitle, “Murder Calls” pays homage to a popular radio show that aired from 1935 to 1975, “Hawaii Calls.” At the peak of its popularity, the show reached 750 stations throughout the world and introduced listeners to live Hawaiian music.


. . . The Late Show, Michael Connelly’s latest novel, released last week. As a longtime fan of Michael Connelly, I’ve read all his books and eagerly waited for this one. Would this be another Harry Bosch? A Mickey Haller? Perhaps a Jack McCoy? None of the above. Connelly gives us someone new—LAPD detective Renee Ballard.

I have always admired Connelly’s female characters—Rachel Walling, Cassie Black, Eleanor Wish—but, except for Black, none appeared as the main protagonist. Walling, in my opinion, is one of the best female characters and deserves her own lead. Black is also an interesting character. I once had the opportunity at a book-signing, to ask Connelly if there would be another Black book. He said she’s getting too old for the type of things she does. Connelly, by the way, ages his characters in real time. Harry Bosch is at retirement age and Rachel Walling is nearly there.

But I digress. Here’s the dope on Renee Ballard. Ballard has ten years on the job as a detective in the Hollywood division. Not only is she a woman, she is a wahine, a Hawaiian, raised on Maui, graduate of Lahainaluna. High School, and a fellow alum of the University of Hawaii. When not detecting, she SUPs (stand up paddle boarding.) It is not clear if she is a kama’aina (native-born Hawaiian.) Her father was a surfer. His death by drowning twenty years earlier still haunts her dreams. Her mother is out of the picture. After graduating from UH Manoa with a degree in journalism, she did a brief stint as a crime reporter in LA. That experience convinced her to join the PD and become a detective. (With that background, you could call her a maka ikiu—detective in Hawaiian. Certainly a fitting topic for this Hawaiian Noir blog.)

Ballard resembles Bosch in some respects. She has problems with authority, is impatient with standard operating procedure and protocol, becomes defiant when challenged or blocked. She is ambitious in the way Bosch is ambitious—not for career advancement, but to clear cases and speak for the victim. The late show of the title refers to the night shift in the PD, the eleven to seven shift. Night shift detectives work the cases as they come in, but turn those cases over to the day detectives. They seldom have the opportunity to close cases. The late show is a career dead-end for a detective. Ballard was assigned to the late show after filing a complaint against her lieutenant. So, like Bosch, she has plenty of conflict with her superiors. The Late Show presents Ballaard with a couple of cases she is determined to solve. I can’t give away the ending because I don’t know it yet. I’m anxious to get back to it. Ballard is a character I want to spend time with and hope Connelly gives us more. Hell, I’m jealous. Ballard is the kind of character I want to write.

One more thing. Connelly doesn’t make a big deal of this, but it appears that Ballard is homeless. Her home is van and a tent which she shares with her dog Lola.

Shelbi LeMeilleur reviews The Splintered Paddle in the March issue of Insite Magazine.

Here is what she has to say:

This novel is exhilarating, constantly changing directions and keeps the readers on their toes, trying to solve the mystery before Ava does. . . . Well, book a ticket to sunny Hawaii, and join Ava Rome on an adventure you won’t soon forget.

You can read the full review here.

– See more at: http://www.insitebrazosvalley.com/lifestyle/brazos-reads/brazos-reads-march-mystery/#sthash.ueOSGZvt.dpuf

Laura Hartman calls The Splintered Paddle, “heart-pounding Hawaiian mystery.” She says:

Troy does a great job blending the stories and solid believable characters with Hawaiian culture. Adding Ava’s past enriches the mix and pulls the readers closer to her, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.

You can read the complete review here: https://writeknit.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/book-review-the-splintered-paddle-heart-pounding-hawaiian-mystery/

A new review of The Splintered Paddle in The Midwest Book Review.

Reviewer Jack Mason writes:

Synopsis: Private eye Ava Rome’s calling is to protect the defenseless. She takes on the cases of Jenny Mordan, a working girl who is being harassed by a police detective, and Cassie Sands, a teenager who is mixed up with a marijuana grower. Norman Traxler did ten years in San Quentin nurturing his hatred of Ava Rome, the young MP who took him down for assaulting a prostitute. When Traxler, the detective and the grower join forces against her, Ava’s calling, protecting the defenseless, becomes a fight for her life.

Critique: Set against the background of Waikiki, Hawaii, Mark Troy’s latest Ava Rome detective novel, “The Splintered Paddle”, is a solid entertainment from first page to last and again documents author Mark Troy’s impressive narrative skills as a mystery thriller novelist able to craft memorable characters and embed them into a deftly woven story of unexpected twists, turns, and surprises. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted that “The Splintered Paddle” is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.19).




A new review is up at I Love A Mystery. John A. Broussard says:

The action proceeds at breakneck speed, as the various forces clash and work their way to a spectacular ending.

He gives it a rating of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

You can read the review here: http://www.iloveamysterynewsletter.com/JOHN%20BROUSSARD.html

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