Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

The year in mystery.

When 2017 began, I was still working at Texas A&M with one month before retirement. No mystery there unless you count the mysteries of retirement planning, health care, annuities, etc. I am pleased to report that retirement is going great.

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Hawaiian Blessing LCC 3/16/17

Left Coast Crime—Honolulu Havoc, mid-March in Honolulu. This was my retirement trip, one we had planned on for years. Once my retirement date was set we built a six-week tour of Hawaii, beginning with the convention at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. For mystery lovers, Left Coast Crime is always a great treat. This was no exception. My hat goes off to Lucinda Surber and her team of organizers.


2017-03-15 18.31.38 HDR

The convention began with a reader connection event. Mary Fran and I hosted six attendees for drinks and sunset at the House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel. Great evening, great conversation, and spectacular sunset. I participated in two panel discussions. One panel on writing Hawaiian, moderated by Terry Ambrose, and another panel on writing villains moderated by Ken Wishnia. Both panels had lively, intelligent speakers, as you can see in the pictures. On the writing hawaii panel, we had Leslie Karst, Laurie Hannan, and Katharine Nohr. The Villain panel had Laurie R. King, Terry Shames, and Matt Coyle.

2017-03-16 11.58.35

Writing Hawaii Panel 3/16/17.

Between panels, I had a chance to connect with friends, listen to great music, eat great food, and swim in the beautiful Pacific. I don’t think any convention can top LCC in Honolulu. Readers of this blog know some of the things we did after the convention, so I won’t go into that here. Stay turned for future posts because I haven’t finished recounting our adventures.


Left Coast Crime Panel, March 18, 2017


When 2017 began, I was working on the sixth draft of a novel, Day Of Infamy and getting editorial assistance from Dario Ciriello . I finished the seventh draft before heading to Honolulu. I also began querying agents about the book. I sent the first query on March 7. On November 9, I signed with Elizabeth Marshea of Ladderbird Literary Agency https://www.ladderbird.com. In all, I queried 80 agents. Ladderbird was number 75. Between March and November, Day Of Infamy went through three more drafts and changed title to Questions Of loyalty. I’m hoping for a sale in 2018.

Red Christmas

An Ava Rome mystery.

Speaking of title changes, I changed the title of IFHC, a short story that had appeared in the Shamus Sampler II anthology, to Red Christmas, put a new cover on it, and published it on Kindle as a stand-alone. https://www.amazon.com/Red-Christmas-Ava-Rome-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B074PDSTXY/.

Closing out the year, I received notice that my short story, Shaft On Wheels, has been accepted for inclusion in a forthcoming anthology, The Eyes Of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken. It will be published next year to coincide with Bouchercon in Dallas. Shaft On Wheels introduces a new character, Colt Colton, a Texas private eye. Colt is a former Dallas PD officer and former bull rider who was injured by a bull and is now confined to a wheelchair. I’m planning on several more Colt stories.


9DACE35D-E3FF-4EBA-89F7-45684EE273FDThe first book of the year (or perhaps the last book of 2016) was a Christmas gift. Impounded, by Linda Gordon and Gary Okihiro. Impounded is a set of essays and photos by Dorothea Lange of the Japanese concentration camps during World War II. Lange is best know for her photo essays of the Depression. She was commissioned by the War Department to photograph the camps in a propaganda effort to show that the internees were being well treated. Instead, she captured much of the emotion and unfairness of the experience. As a result, her photos were impounded and only allowed to be made public a few years ago.Since my book, Questions of Loyalty, deals with the same history, I found the book to be moving and enlightening.

A book which I acquired early In the year but have not read is The Cooperstown Symposium On Baseball And American Culture: 2013-2014. I purchased it on Kindle while doing research for Questions Of Loyalty. I wanted more information on baseball in the Japanese concentration camps and the book contains an essay on the topic. The essay might have more than I want to know. In looking at the index. I was able to determine that the author discusses baseball at Tule Lake, the camp that figures prominently in my story. Moreover, the author is named Osaki, which is the name of an important character in Questions Of Loyalty. I closed the ebook and changed my character’s name to Miyazaki because I don’t want to be telling Osaki’s story. I hope to read the essay when Questions of Loyalty is published.

A selection of books I read in 2017.

7FB522F9-0A33-4BBF-B0EF-EAD545B9F518Rusty Puppy, Joe R. Lansdale
Honky Tonk Samurai, Joe R. Lansdale
Devil Red, Joe R. Lansdale
Coco Butternut, Joe R. Lansdale
Dead Aim, Joe R. Lansdale
Hyenas, Joe R. Lansdale
Hap and Leonard Ride Again, Joe R. Lansdale
(Note: since we had two long flight two and from Hawaii, and many more inter island flights, plus a lot of beach time, I downloaded all the Lansdale books I hadn’t read for the hawaii trip)
The Gods Of Guilt, Michael Connelly
The Wrong Side Of Goodbye, Michael Connelly
The Late Show, Michael ConnellyD2CA747A-0ABE-4232-AFB5-1FCF49497AD1
World Gone By, Dennis Lehane
The Promise, Robert Crais
Not A Drill, Lee Child
Night School, Lee Child
Small Wars, Lee Child
A Wanted Man, Lee Child
The Fever, Megan Abbott
Hawke’s Prey, Reavis Z. Wortham
Bucky F___ing Dent, David Duchovny
Dying For A Taste, Leslie Karst
Land Sharks, Katharine Nohr
Honolulu Hottie, Terry Ambrose
The Rainbow Connection, Laurie Hannan875764F0-99CC-41A2-B83B-D22EFC7AFC6C
The Lady From Zagreb, Phillip Kerr

Recently acquired, but not finished:

The Obama Inheritance, 15 stories of conspiracy edited by Gary Phillips
A Chant of Love and Lamentation, Brian Reeves
The Kona Shuffle, Tom Bradley, Jr.

I also have some non-fiction, which I won’t list here. Most are books to help with my research or my writing. Several of the books on writing are by James Scot Bell, whose books every fiction writer should have.

Sad News

435FD5D3-6C52-41D7-80A2-334C4D3DFDF9The mystery world is very saddened at the passing of Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone series. Ms. Grafton was a talented writer who created a revolution in literature and, especially the world of detective fiction, with the publication of A Is For Alibi. She, along with P. D. James, Sara Paretsky, and Marcia Muller created the modern, hard-boiled, female private eye and opened the way for many female and male writers. Prior to Grafton, James, Paretsky, and Muller, there were female private eyes, but they were written by men, and mostly continued male stereotypes of women. Grafton, along with the others, gave us realistically drawn women facing realistic challenges, and often having to overcome stereotypes and prejudice. She was also instrumental in the formation of Sisters In Crime, an international organization that worked to encourage women writers and to fight for equality in reviews and remuneration with male writers.I was fortunate to meet Sue Grafton several times at various Bouchercons. She was a delightful and gracious lady. We are all diminished by her death. Her latest book in the famous alphabet series was Y Is For Yesterday. Sue Grafton was adamant that her books not be translated into movies or television, and that the series not be ghost written. Kinsey Milhone’s 25th adventure was her last.


Hope 2018 is better.


Ho Ho Ho!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Aloha Friday didn’t make an appearance yesterday because she was busy with Christmas shopping. Six hours, to be exact. So I promised to tell you the number of books in our Christmas tree.

Drum roll please: Ta da da da—159 books.

Here’s what’s happening in the Islands at Christmas.

7BDFD7C5-0228-4148-8B18-F0D2B0F7F3DCDecember 6, the fifty-foot pine in front of Honolulu Hale was lit up and will remain lit until January 2,

Santa arrives early in Honolulu. He showed up at Waikiki beach on December 9 in an outrigger canoe.

6A6B5A14-5281-4D6C-ACC7-9A3A3CB5D771What do people do on Christmas? In Kailua, they are enjoying the beach and the surf.

Singing Mele Kalikimaka and the 12 Pidgin Days of Christmas.





Twelve Days of Christmas

Pidgin lyrics by Eaton Bob Magoon, Jr., Edward Kenny, Gordon N. Phelps

Number one day of Christmas My tutu gave to me

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah two day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah three day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 3 dried squid

2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah four day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 4 flower leis,

3 dried squid

2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah five day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 5 big fat pigs

4 flower leis

3 dried squid,

2 coconuts and

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah six day of Christmas My tutu gave to me 6 hula lessons,

(continue 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah seven day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

7 shrimps a swimming

(continue 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah eight day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

8 ukuleles,

(continue 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah nine day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

9 pounds of poi

(continue 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah ten day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

10 cans of beer

(continue 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah eleven day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

11 missionaries

(continue 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Numbah twelve day of Christmas

My tutu gave to me

12 televisions

(continue 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)

One mynah bird in one papaya tree


Time to get out the uke and practice.

BB292925-6284-4D76-A019-9C6A34E17254Christmas is around the corner. You’ve gotta know “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Get the tabs here: https://ukutabs.com/m/mariah-carey/all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you/












If you need some traditional melodies, here is the Ukulele Christmas Songbook: http://www.ukuke.co.uk/Ukulele%20Christmas%20Song%20Book.pdf

Let it Snow!



Texas Author Bill Crider

Many of you are already acquainted with Bill Crider and his work. If you are not, you should be. Bill is a writer’s writer. He not only writes stories that are worth reading over and over for enjoyment and inspiration, but he is knowledgeable about nearly all aspects of genre fiction, especially mystery, western, science fiction, and horror. Bill is a contributor to many lists such as Rara-Avis He has been a fixture at many conventions, especially Bouchercon, Aggiecon, and many others. Most importantly, Bill has been a helpful and encouraging voice for beginning writers and a friend and advocate for established writers throughout the United States.

I first met Bill at a mystery workshop in Chicago about 1991 or 1992. He was a featured speaker and I was an unpublished nobody, but he was friendly, gracious and encouraging. At that time, I was a member of Brazos Writers and was on a committee to develop a writing workshop. I asked Bill if he would take part and he generously agreed, even though, as a small organization, we couldn’t offer much in remuneration.

Over the years, I encountered Bill at many conventions and communicated with him often by email. At Conmisterio in Austin, I shared a panel with Bill. The topic had to do with books and authors from our youth. I mentioned reading the Saint series by Leslie Charteris. Sometime later in the convention, Bill gave me a paperback of Saint stories he had found at a used bookstore that day and thought of me.

When The Splintered Paddle was published in 2014, Bill was kind enough to give me a pre-publication review it and write a blurb for it.

Those of you who have followed Bill’s blog, know that he is ill with cancer and has recently entered hospice care. For all of us who know him, it is truly sad news. There is not a kinder, gently, more knowledgeable person in the literary scene. On Friday, December 15, Patricia Abbott devoted a post of Friday’s Forgotten Books to Bill. Friends and followers of Bill contributed their thoughts and reviews of his work. You can read the testament to Bill here: https://pattinase.blogspot.com/2017/12/bill-crider-day-on-ffb-december-15-2017.html

Aloha Bill Crider!

Holiday Giveaway!


Christmas Book Tree

Yesterday, Mary Fran and I put up our tree, shown here. How many books make up the tree? If you think you know, send me an email at mark@marktroyauthor.com. The person who comes closest will receive an audiobook (Audible) of The Splintered Paddle. Send your guess by midnight, Thursday, December 21. I will make the announcement on December 22. You can be over or under. Closest wins. Hint: The stack has 39 levels.

A date that will live in infamy!

Yesterday, December 7, 2017, we remembered Pearl Harbor and the more than 2,000 sailors and soldiers who died in the early morning attack. Some twenty survivors attended the ceremony at Pearl Harbor yesterday.

In the aftermath of the attack, the islands were placed under martial law. The police and courts became militarized. The police were tasked with hunting spies and saboteurs. So who did the normal policing? Somebody had to write speeding tickets, respond to robberies and burglaries, and investigate crimes. In addition, there were now curfews that needed to be enforced. Much of the police work fell on volunteers.

The Honolulu Police Department already had a volunteer program in place. It was introduced in July 1941. This is where things get interesting. On December 6, 1941, the Spartans of San Jose State University played the Rainbow Warriors of the University of Hawaii in football. On December 7, the Spartan players woke up to learn the islands were under attack and they were stranded. Only naval vessels or ships carrying military cargo could enter or leave the islands. So, the players volunteered for the police department. Some eventually joined the armed forces and left, but others remained throughout the war. You can read about it on the Honolulu Police Department website. http://www.honolulupd.org/department/index.php?page=history

Go For Broke

The 100th Infantry Battalion first adopted “Remember Pearl Harbor” as their motto. They later adopted “Go For Broke.” Their original song was Remember Pearl Harbor. I don’t know who wrote the Remember Pearl Harbor lyrics. The Go For Broke lyrics were written by Martin Kida, who was killed in action.

History in every century
We recall an act that lives forevermore
We recall as into night they fall
The things that happened on Hawaii shore

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we go to meet the foe
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we did the Alamo

We will always remember
How they died for liberty
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
And go on to victory

Four Forty-Second Infantry
We are the boys of Hawaii Nei
We will fight for you
And the red white and blue
And will go the front
And back to Honolulu-lu-lu
Fighting for dear old Uncle Sam
Go for broke we don’t give a damn
We will round up the Huns
At the point of a gun
And victory will be ours
Go for broke! Four Four Two!
Go for broke! Four Four Two!
And victory will be ours.
All hail our company.


On Wednesday, I wrote about how the ukulele got its name. George S Kanahele, in his book, Hawaiian Music and Musicians: An Illustrated History, 1979, University of Hawaii Press, cites the Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary, which is the authoritative source on the Hawaiian language. According to Pukui and Elbert, the name comes from an Englishman, Edward Purvis, who came to Honolulu in 1879 after serving in India as an army officer. Soon after his arrival, he took the post of assistant chamberlain to the court of King Kalakaua. Because of his size and nimbleness, the king nicknamed him “Ukulele,” “little jumping flea.” “Uku” meaning “flea,” and “lele” meaning jumping. Purvis was a fine musician and learned to play the braguinha well enough that he frequently performed for the court. He became so identified with the instrument that it came to be known by his nickname.

So now you know.

The Tiki Bar is open!

E15C0D6A-6645-430D-99DA-4DC31C7008D6The holiday season is upon us. If you’re hosting a party, what is more festive than a good punch? This one serves 12. It is called the Cinerama Luau Punch. It was created for the 1958 release of the Cinerama South Seas Adventure movie, the fifth in the Cinerama series of travelogue-type films composed of fictional vignettes in exotic places. In this movie you can fly over fjords of New Zealand, and surf big waves in Hawaii, among other adventures, all captured in the curved screen Cinerama style. If you are old enough to remember Cinerama, you are old enough to drink the punch.554EFEF7-D19C-47EC-B4B1-6689DFF2248F

8 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
8 oz fresh lemon juice
8 oz fresh lime juice
8 oz orange juice
2 oz orange curaçao
½ bottle of any white wine
1 ½ bottle gold Jamaican rum

Mix everything in a punch bowl and chill with ice.
This recipe came from Beachbum Berry.


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