Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

The Royal Hawaiian Band

When people think of Hawaii, they think of sun, sand, surf, palm trees and ocean breezes. What they discover when they get there is music. Music is the soul of Hawaiian culture and the Royal Hawaiian Band is its heart. Founded in 1836 by Kamehameha III, the band has a 180 year history of performing for the people of Hawaii and the world.

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Royal Hawaiian Band March 19, 2017

The band’s first leader was Heinrich Berger who arranged many local songs and rhythms to the orchestra and who also wrote many original pieces that are still known and performed by Hawaiians. His best know contribution is Hawaii Pono’I, which became the state anthem. Under his direction, the band performed at state functions, funerals, celebrations, and parades. For his contributions, Berger is know as the Father of Hawaiian Music.

The Royal Hawaiian Band today is an agency of the City and County of Honolulu and is the only full-time municipal band in the United States. The band performs in over 300 concerts and parades each year at city, state, military and private functions. It entertains the public at free concerts every Friday at Iolani Palace at noon, and every Sunday afternoon at 2:00 at the bandstand in Kapiolani Park.

All performances include songs from the days of the Hawaiian monarchy written by Queen Liliuokalani, King Kalakaua, Princess Likelike, and Prince Leleiohoku. Their repertoire also includes Hawaiian songs from later eras, such as the “Hapa Haole” music (Hawaiian music with English Lyrics), Broadway musical numbers, and modern orchestral numbers. Every concert concludes with a rendition of Queen Liliuokalani’s Aloha Oe.

Visitor’s to Hawaii should not miss the Royal Hawaiian Band.

Left Coast Crime, Honolulu Havoc 2017

Panel: Sinister Criminals: Dark (noir) and Devastating. Saturday, March 18.
I have to give a lot of kudos to moderator Ken Wishnia for the hard work he put into this panel. He read our books and proposed topics for discussion well in advance and kept all of us on topic. He also engaged the audience in the conversation. I was pleased and humbled to share the dais with such mystery greats as Matt Coyle, Laurie King, and Terry Shames.


Left Coast Crime Panel, March 18, 2017

The topic was villains. We generally agreed that we didn’t like serial-killers who are completely evil, obsessed, and have no redeeming characteristics. We also agreed that there should be a thin line between the hero and the villain, as thin as possible. There is a certain symbiosis, you might say, between the hero and the villain. They have much in common, the way the guard dog and the wolf share a lot in common. A strong villain makes a strong hero, who will be only as strong as her opponent. Some panelists expressed the belief that a compelling villain is one who doesn’t start out as a villain, but is backed into a corner and has no other way out.

I was delighted to have a seat at the table hosted by Ken Wishnia at the banquet that evening. Ken writes the marvelous Filomena Buscarsela books as well as such books as Jewish Noir, Long Island Noir, and others. He gave me a signed copy of The Red House, a Filomena book.

Go For Broke

Anzio. By March, 1944, the 100th Infantry Battalion had experienced six months of hard fighting from their landing in Salerno with the 34th, through the German defenses of the Volturno River to Cassino and the Gustav Line. Having been sent into combat at Monte Cassino twice in February, they were now less than half of their original strength. Although the fight for Monte Cassino still raged, the 34th Division, including the 100th were pulled out and sent to Anzio for the push to Rome. The ranks of the 100th were filled with Nisei replacements from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.


100th on Anzio Beachhead

For two months, the Allies struggled to maintain their hold on the 10 square miles of beachfront while the Germans in the hills surrounding the beachhead tried to blast them back into the sea with artillery, mortars, machine guns and bombs. By May of 1944, the Allies planned to push on to Rome, but lacked intelligence of German divisions in their path.

The task of capturing German prisoners to interrogate fell to a captain of the 100th, Young Oak Kim, of Korean ancestry. Kim studied the German movements and, on the night of May 16, he led four Nisei volunteers along a drainage ditch, past German positions. They waited in the ditch until dawn and then Kim and Private First Class Irving Akahoshi set out leaving three riflemen for cover. Kim and Akahoshi crawled through briar and 250 yards through a wheat field on their stomachs until they surprised two German soldiers in a slit trench. They disarmed the soldiers and led them back, again on their stomachs, past German positions, to their unit on the beach. The information provided by the prisoners was sufficient and, at the end of May, the Allies broke out of Anzio and pushed to Rome.

At Lanuvio, the Allies encountered a German roadblock of overlapping machine gun fire. Two battalions were sent to clear them but failed. On June 2, a battalion of Nisei were ordered to clear them. In 36 hours they knocked out a dozen machine guns and broke through the German defenses. They moved so fast that they came under artillery fire from Allied guns who had not expected them to make such progress. Several Nisei were killed or wounded by Allied artillery before they could get word to stop firing.

Lanuvio was the last German stronghold before Rome, which was twelve miles away. The 100th, having lost 900, killed or wounded, of the original 1,400 hoped to be able to enter Rome as liberators. Instead, on June 4th, they had to wait by the rode while the Fifth Army marched in. Then they were shipped to Cittavecchia, northwest of Rome, where they were united with the 442nd.

Medal of Honor

Yeiki Kobashigawa was born at Hilo, Hawaii in 1917, the son of immigrants who were born in Okinawa, Japan. He joined the US Army in November, 1941, one month before Pearl Harbor. He volunteered for the 100th Infantry Battalion. He died in 2005 at Waianae, Hawaii and is buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Kobashigawa, Yeiki
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Unit: Company F, 100th Infantry Battalion
Born: Hilo, Hawaii, September 28. 1917
Technical Sergeant Yeiki Kobashigawa distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 2 June 1944, in the vicinity of Lanuvio, Italy. During an attack, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa’s platoon encountered strong enemy resistance from a series of machine guns providing supporting fire. Observing a machine gun nest 50 yards from his position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa crawled forward with one of his men, threw a grenade and then charged the enemy with his submachine gun while a fellow soldier provided covering fire. He killed one enemy soldier and captured two prisoners. Meanwhile, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa and his comrade were fired upon by another machine gun 50 yards ahead. Directing a squad to advance to his first position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa again moved forward with a fellow soldier to subdue the second machine gun nest. After throwing grenades into the position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa provided close supporting fire while a fellow soldier charged, capturing four prisoners. On the alert for other machine gun nests, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa discovered four more, and skillfully led a squad in neutralizing two of them. Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Revising: Act I

In the last post on revising, I summarized each scene on an index card and organized all of the cards into five groups—Act I, Act II-first part, Center point, Act II-second part, Act III.

What determines what goes into each act? One consideration is simply page count. The first act should take up the first quarter of the book, the second act takes up the middle half of the book, and the third act covers the last quarter. But that’s actually the least important consideration. At this point, it’s simply a rough guide. There are certain things that need to happen in each act.

Act I events.

1. The introduction of the main character in her normal world. This should be an inciting incident which gets the story rolling. For Day of Infamy, I show Ava Rome in the act of performing a background check on a man who is up for a government security job. She goes to question a neighbor and learns that the man she is checking on and his wife have been having problems. She visits the wife and discovers that she has been abused. She takes steps to remove the wife to safety, but before it can happen, the husband comes home and a violent confrontation ensues.
2. The call to adventure. In classic stories, the hero is presented with a challenge or a problem to undertake. The problem is something that causes disruption in the normal world. In most detective stories, the call to adventure comes in the form of a client seeking the detective’s services. In Day of Infamy, the initial call comes from the grandfather of Ava’s best friend Annie. He hires Ava to find out how his best friend died in a concentration camp in California during World War II. The disruption happens when the grandfather reveals that he is not Annie’s grandfather as she believed, but that her true grandfather is the man who died in the camp.
3. Refusal of the call. Often, the hero will refuse the challenge when first offered or will express reluctance. Ava is hesitant at first because the case is cold. Most witnesses and clues have long since disappeared. She also expresses concern that she might uncover information that would cause her friend Annie distress. Finally, she puts off the investigation because she has another case, that of the abused woman she rescued, which she gives higher priority.
4. Meeting a mentor. The mentor is someone who can provide the hero with expertise, information, guidance, and sometimes even a gift such as a weapon of tool to use in the adventure. Ava has several mentors in the story. Moon Ito is a tough guy who often provides backup and, in this case, finds a weapon for her. A man with whom she is having an affair has some information for her, but more importantly, introduces her to someone who can not only translate a diary from that era, which might hold clues, but can give more background information on the era.
5. Confronting threshold guardians. The threshold guardians are often agents or lackeys of the bad guy, though they could also take the form of officials or other individuals who want to impede the hero’s progress. In Day of Infamy, one of the guardians is the man who is accused of abusing his wife at the beginning of the story. He returns with personal attacks against Ava. Other guardians are members of the company he works for, who attempt to intimidate her into giving up her mission.
6. Crossing the threshold, going through the door. Act I ends when the hero crosses the threshold into Act II. This is like a door to the world of adventure. She leaves the normal world and embarks on the path she has been called to. It is a one-way door. Once she has passed through, it slams shut and she can’t go back. Two things occur. One, Ava commits to the adventure. She confirms to herself and others that she will not be stopped before she solves the crime. Two, the reader now knows the story question that drives the story.
While these events are unfolding we see Ava in her home, her office, and other settings of her normal world. We meet friends, lovers, associates, and enemies. We see some actions of the villain in the story, although most of his actions are carried out by his henchmen. We also see clues that she will need in going forward, which she might not recognize yet. We also get some hints at weaknesses she will need to overcome if she is to be successful.

The task at hand then, is to go through the scene cards and make sure that there are scenes for each of the events listed. Some of the events, such as meeting the mentor and confronting the threshold guardians require multiple scenes. Ava confronts multiple threshold guardians on multiple occasions. She meets three mentors, each more than once. The cards needed to be rearranged into the proper sequence, and some cards needed to be brought from other acts.

After identifying the scenes that needed to be in the second act and putting them in order, it was easy to determine what scenes needed to be written to complete Act I. Fortunately, there were not many of those. There were however, some cards left over. A few of these would go into Act II where they were better suited, but some needed to be deleted.

The scenes that needed to be deleted were mostly the result of what I call “seeds.” These were story elements—plot points, background info, subplots, possibly characters—that I wrote in the first draft with the possibility that they might grow into an important part of the story, but which ended up going nowhere.

With the shape of Act I determined, I had everything I needed to write the second draft of Act I.

Next, the first half of Act II.


I highly recommend The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers (2nd Edition), by Christopher Vogler, 1998, Michael Weiss Productions: Studio City, CA

The Rules


On Kindle and Audible

You can now purchase The Rules, an Ava Rome novella For free on Kindle today until  August 20. Get it now. It’s a great eclipse read.

Writing Mojo

I first met Joe R. Lansdale in early 1988, not long after we moved to Texas. I had moved with a partially completed novel which I submitted to a writing workshop sponsored by Cepheid Variable, a Texas A&M student organization. The workshop was led by two unknown (to me) writers, Lew Shiner and Joe Lansdale. Lansdale had already published The Drive-In, which was becoming a cult-favorite among SF readers.

The novel I submitted featured an amateur sleuth, a junior academic at a research university. Because he had no crime-solving skills, I created a second character, a former cop, and, because I thought there should be some romance, I made this second character a woman.

Lansdale and Shiner ripped my novel (about 20 pages) to shreds. They hated my main character, but like the woman. Their first two recommendations were: 1) Tell the story in her point of view; and 2) Tell it in first person, if possible. I talked to Joe afterwards and he emphasized that to be successful, you have to take risks and get out of your comfort zone. I followed his advice. The result was the Val Lyon series and now the Ava Rome series. Thanks Joe.

Hap and Leonard

If you are not familiar with them, Hap Collins and Leonard Pine are two East Texas characters who have appeared in seventeen novels or novellas beginning with Savage Season (1990). Hap is white, heterosexual, liberal, former draft resister who went to jail for burning his draft card. Leonard is black, gay, hard-nosed conservative, and a Vietnam Nam veteran. The two of them live in the small town of LaBorde in East Texas. Small towns in East Texas are not known for their tolerance of blacks, gays, liberals, or smart-mouths, which means that Hap and Leonard don’t have to look for trouble. It sticks to them like bugs (Texas-size) on a windshield. When mayhem comes their way, Hap and Leonard respond with more.

My bookmark just left . . .

. . . Rusty Puppy the latest novel in the series, which is now 27 years old. Hap and Leonard have both aged. They’ve gained a little weight and maybe lost a little speed, but they haven’t lost their wise-ass mouths. Hap has become somewhat domesticated. He has a live-in girlfriend named Brett Sawyer, a gun-toting, wise-cracking redhead. He also has a German shepherd that he and Leonard rescued from an animal abuser in a previous story, and he has a twenty-something daughter, Chance, who has just entered his life. Chance was the product of a short-lived fling. Her existence was unknown to Hap until she showed up at his house.

Hap is recovering from a stabbing which nearly killed him and Leonard is getting over a break-up with his lover John. Brett has just purchased a private detective agency and hired Hap and Leonard. The agency doesn’t bring in much money, but it does bring in trouble.

The trouble is in the form of Louise Elton, who asks the men to look into the death of her son Jamar, whom she believes was killed by the police. Louise has a daughter, Charm, who was pulled over and sexually assaulted by a bully cop. The cop then takes to following Charm. Jamar takes it upon himself to ask questions and videotape the cop and his partner. Shortly after, Jamar is found dead, reportedly from getting into a fight in the projects. Jamar was an intelligent student, who was not prone to trouble. The story doesn’t make sense to Hap and Leonard and they take on Louise’s case. This is a Lansdale novel, so a lot of mayhem ensues as Hap and Leonard take on the racist police force that has divided their town.

Here is Hap and Leonard on their first visit to the projects where Jamar was alleged to have been in a fight. Hap is confronted by some young toughs and Leonard comes along.

“Leonard had come up behind the boys now. He had already read the situation, and since he had on his badass hat, he was talking shit.
“Get the hell out of the way,” I heard him say, and they parted before him as if he were a Mack truck. Leonard isn’t a little guy, but he’s not supersize either. He always gives the impression of being bigger, way he talks and walks. He leads with his dick, as one old man we trained martial arts with once put it.”— Joe R. Lansdale. “Rusty Puppy.” Little, Brown and Company, 2017-02-21.

Shortly after, they meet a ten-year-old girl named Reba, who matches Leonard in language and wise cracks. Leonard calls her a four-hundred-year-old midget vampire.

“I hope you get et up by a tiger,” she said, walking away.
“Not likely,” Leonard said.
“Leonard, really? You’re going to pick a fight with a kid?”—Joe R. Lansdale. “Rusty Puppy.” Little, Brown and Company, 2017-02-21.

Reba gives as good as she gets. She give Leonard the middle finger and walks away. By the end of the book, she has Leonard wrapped around her little finger. Lansdale pushes the pedal to the floor and doesn’t let up.

Hard-boiled Quote #3

When I got over to Leonard’s Christmas Eve night, he had the Kentucky Headhunters turned way up over at his place and they were singing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” and Leonard, in a kind of Christmas celebration, was once again setting fire to the house next door. — Hap Collins in The Two-Bear Mambo, Joe R. Lansdale


Left Coast Crime 2017, Honolulu Havoc

What can I say about Left Coast Crime? This is always one of the best mystery conventions. Smaller than Bouchercon, but attracting top authors and dedicated fans. Lucinda Surber and Stan Ulrich do a tremendous job every year. Kudos also belongs to their local chair. This year the local chair was Gay Gale. She did a terrific job answering questions from authors, assisting with shipping books, and all the other things that go into making a convention great.

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Hawaiian Blessing LCC 3/16/17

Faye and Jonathan Kellerman received the lifetime achievement award. Guests of honor were Dana Stabenow and Colin Cotterill. Laurie King was Toastmaster and Earl Der Biggers was Ghost of honor. A Hawaiian blessing ceremony opened the convention on Thursday.


I was on a Thursday panel called Writing About Hawaii: Surf’s up. Is it a crime wave? The panel was moderated by Terry Ambrose and included Hawaiian authors Leslie Karst, Kathy Nohr, Laurie Hanan and me.

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Writing Hawaii Panel 3/16/17.

We discussed the challenges of writing Hawaiian mysteries, such as how to include pidgin and how to present the multicultural society without resorting to stereotypes. I don’t think we came to any conclusions except that we all love writing about the diversity of the state. I’d never met my fellow panelists before, but they were all funny, smart, and a treat to talk to. The discussion was lively and fun. Each of us gave away a book.

Writing Hawaii Panel 3/16/17. Leslie, Kathy, Mark. Laurie in front. Terry not shown.

Mai Tai

2017-03-19 17.00.48-1You can’t come to Hawaii without partaking of Mai Tais. The original Mai Tai was was invented by Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic himself. It’s made with two kinds of rum, a dark rum and a light rum with fruit juice or a fruit-flavored liquor. If you want the original recipe, you can find it in my short story, Red Christmas, which is available on Amazon for Kindle. (Free today until Tuesday) At the Sunset Lanai Lounge in the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel in Waikiki, the Mai Tais are made with lilikoi juice. The verdict? Awesome. If you’re in Waikiki, the Sunset Lanai is a must stop for both the Mai Tais and the view.


Go For Broke

Having landed in Italy in September 1943, the 100th Infantry, the Nisei, attached to the 34th Division of General Mark Clark’s 5th Army fought their way up the boot of Italy through the fall of 1943. They fought terrain, weather, and Hitler’s SS troops, climbing mountains and crossing rivers in rain, snow and cold. Like the rest of the Army, they were under supplied because the US was hoarding supplies for the invasion of France.

Monte Cassino

[Cassino] was the most gruesome, the most harrowing, and in one aspect the most tragic, of any phase of the war in Italy. —General Mark Clark, commander, 5th Army

In January, 1944, in blizzard conditions, the 100th took three hills overlooking the town of Cassino and the German’s Gustav Line. The Gustav Line, built by German engineers using the natural terrain, protected a key road to Rome. It was one of the strongest defensive lines in history. The dominant feature of the line was a 1500 foot peak topped by centuries-old Benedictine monastery with four-foot thick stone walls. From this fortification, the Germans has a commanding view of the Rapido River Valley  which contained a swift flowing river, irrigation ditches, and a marshy flat filled with land mines. From the monastery, they were able to train overlapping machine gun fire and big artillery on the valley.

In the night of January 24, the two companies of the 100th swam the river and the ditches, and waded the muddy flats under fire to reach a wall which sheltered them from the machine guns. At dawn, a third company of the 100th tried to cross the flats  but were gunned down. Only 14 out of 187 made it to the wall. Having lost so many men and officers, the 100th was pulled back into reserve. The 34th continued the attack.

On February 8, the 100th were sent back in to a position halfway up to the monastery. They took a key hill near the top and dug in for four days, but the 34th was not able to hold the flanks. Once again, the 100th had to pull back.

On February 15, the Allies reluctantly bombed the monastery, reducing it to rubble, but that did not end the German’s resistance. On February 18, the 100th, now seriously undermanned went back into battle against the Well-entrenched, well-armed Germans. The 100th gained the ground halfway up to the monastery but lost 200 men in the fight. After four days of intense fighting, they were pulled back for replacements and re-supply. They were replaced by British and Indian troops.

It took three more months and five fresh divisions to take Monte Cassino. War correspondents praised the efforts of the 100th and called them the Purple Heart Battalion. The 100th had landed at Salerno with 1300 men. Five months later, they were down to 521. Monte Cassino was the last campaign for the original 100th Hawaii Nisei. After that they received replacements from the 442nd.

Next Week: Anzio.

Japanese-American Resistance

While Japanese-Americans were fighting and dying in Europe, Japanese-Americans in the United States were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps in the West. I intend to write more on this in future posts and in an upcoming book. Until then, here is an article on the resistance to internment at the largest concentration camp, Tule Lake. Thanks to Ann Kellett for sharing this link. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Resistance-at-Tule-Lake-A-Hidden-History-of-Japanese-American-Incarceration-and-Defiance-20170719-0007.html

Shizuya “Cesar” Hayashi

Born in Waialua, Hawaii and was drafted after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He volunteered for the 100th and landed in Italy with the 100th in 1943. He was nicknamed “Cesar” because his sergeant could not pronounce his name. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for actions near Cerasuolo, Italy in November, 1943. The Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor for valor in June 2000. Shizuya Hayashi passed away in March 2008 and is buried in the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Oahu, Hawaii.

Medal of Honor Citation
Hayashi, Shizuya
Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company A, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)
Place and date: Cerasuolo, Italy, November 29, 1943
Entered service at:Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
Born:”November 28, 1917, Waiakea, Hawaii
Private Shizuya Hayashi distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 November 1943, near Cerasuolo, Italy. During a flank assault on high ground held by the enemy, Private Hayashi rose alone in the face of grenade, rifle, and machine gun fire. Firing his automatic rifle from the hip, he charged and overtook an enemy machine gun position, killing seven men in the nest and two more as they fled. After his platoon advanced 200 yards from this point, an enemy antiaircraft gun opened fire on the men. Private Hayashi returned fire at the hostile position, killing nine of the enemy, taking four prisoners, and forcing the remainder of the force to withdraw from the hill. Private Hayashi’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Red Christmas

I am stepping away from revising this week because I am working on formatting a story for sale on Kindle. The story is Red Christmas. It is a republication of a story that was published in The Shamus Sampler II, edited by Jochem Vandersteen. The original story was titled, IFHC. I changed the title because IFHC was too obscure and because I decided to tone down some, though not all, of the language in the story. (The ‘F’ stands for ‘F*ck’.)

The major change to the story is the addition of a cover. The version in The Shamus Sampler II did not have a cover of its own because it was part of an anthology. I already had a cover for The Rules and I decided to keep that cover but change the color. By simply changing the color, I can let readers know that this story is part of a series. If they are searching for this story, they will see other stories in the series.

This approach to using covers to build a brand and promote a series comes from James Scott Bell in his books, How To Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career and Marketing For Writers Who Hate Marketing. Both are available on Kindle, by the way, and are books every fiction writier/marketer ought to have in their library. Changing the color is only one way to promote the series. The basic idea is that each cover in the series has a commonality that readers will easily recognize.

Red Christmas

An Ava Rome mystery.

I was very pleased with the cover for The Rules, which I purchased from Rocking Book Covers. Adrijus Guscia, the artist, creates wonderful covers that evoke strong emotions. I contacted him and he agreed to change the title and the color for a minimal fee. I went ahead and bought two more covers from him for stories that are in the works. Eventually, this series will have four stories, maybe more. The Red Christmas cover is here. The story should be ready for Kindle today and available for purchase shortly thereafter. The tag line for Red Christmas:

Christmas in Waikiki. A private eye, a bride, and two bad Santas enter a gangster’s bar. The result is a Red Christmas.

Violet McDade and Nevada Alvarado

I’m always looking for stories with tough women. Last week I gave you one such woman, Julie Killeen in The Bride Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich (Julie Kohler, in Francois Truffaut’s film adaptation.) Julie was a bad girl. Although we sympathize with her, she took on the role of vigilant to kill the people who killed her husband. Today, I will introduce a pair of nearly-forgotten detectives who were on the side of the angels, though neither of these women seem particularly angelic.

Violet McDade and Nevada Alvarado were private detective partners in the McDade and Alvarado Agency. The creation of Cleve Adams, they appeared in thirteen stories in Clues, Detective Stories from 1935 to 1938. They were a most unlikely pair. Violet was a former circus fat lady, weighing in between 300 and 400 pounds. Nevada was a slim dark-haired beauty who served as her partner’s Watson, narrating their escapades.


Violet hit him.

The stories are firmly in the hard-boiled, pulp tradition. Both Violet and Nevada are hard-drinking, gun-toting women. Violet carries a pair of .45s in her voluminous sleeves and Nevada wears a .32 in a thigh holster. They solve their cases through deduction, but are not afraid to give chase and fight when necessary. And it is usually necessary. Here their styles differ. Where Nevada opens doors with a smile, Violet will knock them open with a fist and when she hits a man, they stay hit. Violet is at least as tough as her adversaries but is more cunning and morally flexible. She uses guns, fists, or anything else handy to get information out of men. Nevada is the equal of her partner. She drives fast and is quick to bring her gun into play.

There is a lot of teasing between the two, some of which modern readers might find objectionable. Nevada sometimes describes her partner as “elephant” and Violet often refers to Nevada as “Mex.” Nevada takes a lot from Violet, but she can give back, too. At one point she says to Violet, “You — you lout! My family dates back beyond the conquistadors and the Spanish grants. Where did you come from? A circus tent!” Nevertheless, the two have a fondness for each other and are always concerned about the other’s welfare.

Violetcolor copy

The Black Door

Adams penned other hard-boiled series in the forties: Rex McBride, John J. Shannon, and Bill Rye, all popular during the that era. He was a fixture among California writers and organized a group of about twenty writers who called themselves the Fictioneers. He remained as their mentor until the group broke up with the advent of World War II.

A few McDade/Alvarado stories can be found with some diligent sleuthing. You can read one here: http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/2014/07/forgotten-femme-fatales-cleve-f-adams.html. You can also find a reprint in Hard-boiled Dames, edited by Bernard Drew, 1986.


Hard-boiled Quote #2

Violet hit him. Not hard, just a backhanded sweep across the room.

Nevada Alvarado about her partner Violet McDade

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