Hawaiian Noir

Murder Calls

My Two Ukes

Kala Waterman ukeGot myself a Kala Waterman uke. We saw these in Maui Nix surf shop in Daytona last month and I had to have one. It’s made of acrylic and is ideal for taking to the beach, the lake, out in a canoe or a boat. Getting it wet won’t hurt it. Even though it is acrylic and not wood, this is not a toy. The sound is sweet and the notes clear.
Lanikai Pineapple uke
My other uke, which I’ve had for four years, is a hand-crafted Lanikai pineapple. The sides are made of eastern mahogany and the neck is rosewood. Like the Waterman, it is a soprano (GCEA tuning). The tone is more mellow than guitar-shaped ukes. The body has more volume than the Waterman, which gives if a slightly fuller sound than the Waterman.
At $49, the Kala Waterman is about half the price of the Lanikai, so it is a real bargain. The difference, of course, is the hand-crafting of the Lanikai. Regardless, one does not have to spend a lot of money for a quality ukulele. I can not tell you which one is more fun to play, though the Waterman is great for strumming while lying in the hammock.Wastin’ Away Again
I like the looks of both. I have always thought that pineapple shape makes for a great looking instrument and the clear, bright-colored Waterman is just cool looking. The Waterman, by the way, comes in a wide range of bright colors.
If you’re fretting (pun intended) about tax day, get yourself an uke and chill.

The Eyes Of Texas

At last we have a cover and a pub date for The Eyes Of Texas, an anthology of short stories edited by Michael Bracken and published by Down and Out Books. The pub date is October 21, 2019.


The Eyes of Texas features seventeen original tales of Lone Star State private eyes from Trey R. Barker, Chuck Brownman, Michael Chandos, John M. Floyd, Debra H. Goldstein, James A. Hearn, Richard Helms, Robert S. Levinson, Scott Montgomery, Sandra Murphy, Josh Pachter, Michael Pool, Graham Powell, William Dylan Powell, Stephen D. Rogers, Mark Troy, and Bev Vincent.

My story, “Shaft On Wheels” introduces former Dallas cop and former bull rider turned private eye, Colt Colton. The story takes place in central Texas and Houston where Colt, in the days following Hurricane Harvey, is hired to track down the owners of some vehicles that were abandoned in the storm. Colt wades into the cleanup efforts after the storm and discovers lust, incest, adultery and murder buried in the mud and debris..

You can read more about the anthology here: The Eyes Of Texas Press release

The release date, October 21, 2019 is only one week before Bouchercon in Dallas. I hope to get together with some of the other authors. Perhaps we’ll even be able to sell some books.

Island Music

One of the things I like best about Hawai`i is the music. Almost anywhere you go, you can find music and catch a performance of some kind. We were fortunate enough to catch at least one performance nearly every day of this trip. The Courtyard Marriott featured live music every evening. They were mostly local performers with a wide range of talent. We didn’t catch the names of most of the performers, but being that the bar provided a somewhat intimate setting, there was a lot of audience participation. We requested Hi`ilawe from one duo, which got us into a discussion of Gabby Pahinui who made the song famous.

On Friday night we heard Pancho Graham at the Hukilau Lanai near our hotel. Graham is Na Hoku Hano Hano award winning musician who can be heard on the soundtrack of The Descendants. The Na Hokus are the Grammies for Hawaiian music. The Hukilau Lanai was also a very intimate setting.

The only evening we did not catch a performance was the evening we stayed at the Volcano House. Volcano House, on the rim of Kilauea caldera had only recently reopened after the eruption. Their kitchen had not opened yet and they had not booked performers.

The bar of the Grand Naniloa in Hilo also had performers every night. Sometimes two groups. None of them were famous, but some will be. One group was led by a teenager playing the ukulele backed by his grandfather and uncle on guitars. I wish I had gotten his name because he was great. We’ll be hearing more of him.

We scheduled our arrival on Oahu for Sunday morning so we could hear the Royal Hawaiian Band which performs every Sunday afternoon in Kapiolani Park. The Royal Hawaiian Band is the oldest, full time performing, municipal band in the United States. It was founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III and has been in continuous existence ever since. It is now an agency of the City and County of Honolulu. In addition to the Sunday performances, the band performs every Friday noon at Iolani Palace and special events around the state.

Sunday evening, we attended a performance by the trio, Puamana, at the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. We were invited to the performance by one of the members of the group, Mihana Souza, whom we had known when we lived in Kailua in the 1980’s. The Souzas lived only a few houses from us. Their daughter went to school with my son and played Little League together. Puamana was formed by Irmgard Farden Aluli, Mihana’s mother. Auntie Irmgard was a prolific composer of Hawaiian music, with over 200 songs to her credit, second only to Queen Lili`uokalani in output. She was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1998 and died at age 89 in 2001. The group continued under the direction of Mihana and received a lifetime achievement award from the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts in 2015. Here is the group performing before Auntie Irmgard’s death. I think that is Mihana playing base.

And I can’t end without mentioning the performance every evening at sunset at the House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel. It is a gorgeous hotel in an historic location. the House Without a Key sits on the sight of a former guest house where Earl Derr Biggers once stayed and which became the setting for the first Charlie Chan mystery. Every night you can catch a performance of a trio and a dancer. On the night we were there, the dancer was Miss Hawaii 2015.

The Tiki Bar Is Open

This Aloha Friday, the featured drink is a ginger martini, which they served at Hukilau Lanai. This drink requires a bit of preparation of the ginger syrup. It’s probably best offered to company when you can prepare the ginger syrup in a batch ahead of time.

Ginger Syrup

Peel a whole lemon and place in a food processor with two cups of fresh, coarsely chopped ginger, peel and all. Finely chop the lemon and ginger mixture. Place in a saucepan with one cup of sugar and two cups of water. bring to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes. Strain the mixture and let it cool. You can refrigerate it up to a week.

Or you can buy the syrup in the bottle from Amazon, Whole Foods, and probably any well-stocked liquor store.

Ginger Martini

In a shaker add 3oz. Vodka, 1/2 to 1 oz. ginger syrup, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice. Shake over ice, strain into a stem glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.


Kaua’i, 2018

The Hawai’i 2018 trip kicked off on Wednesday, October 10. The shuttle left College Station at 4:00 am for Houston. We left Houston at 10:00, non-stop to Honolulu. Arrived at 1:30 and caught a 3:00 flight to Lihue, arriving at 4:00. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott at Coconut Beach in Kapa’a. Kapa’a is a quaint town on the east side of Kaua’i. We had never been to Kapa’a. On previous trips we’d stayed in Princeville, or Koloa, or Lihue. Our purpose on this trip was to take part in Ni’ihau Day at the Kaua’i Museum. More about that in another post.

Kaua’i and Ni’ihau are the oldest of the inhabited islands. Ni’ihau is wholly owned by the Robinson family and cannot be visited without permission, which is never given to casual visitors. Kaua’i is home to gorgeous beaches, rugged mountain trails and the wettest place on earth, Mount Waialele.

Kaua’i has seen its share of natural disasters, In 1992, it was struck full on by hurricane Iniki, which occurred during the filming of Jurassic Park. The aftermath of the hurricane can still be seen in the number of wild chickens around the island. When the hurricane struck, it liberated the island’s chickens from their coops and no one was able to round them all up afterwards. As a result, wild chickens are everywere on Kaua’i. At the supermarket, you might just find a wild chicken sitting in your grocery cart. They have become symbols of the island. Of course, Iniki liberated some chickens on the other islands as well, but not nearly to the extent on Kaua’i. This Spring, Kaua’i was struck by torrential rains in April, which caused serious flooding and property damage to Kaua’i, especially in the Hanalei area. The remnants of hurricane Lane in August added more damage. Over twenty landslides closed Highway 560 between Hanalei and Haena. The highway is still undergoing repair and we could not get to Lumahai Beach as we hoped.

Food, or, as they say in the islands, grindz.

1AEE2E61-D645-4328-9A5E-EB98E56BE541First stop after picking up a car in Lihue, was Foodland for some Hawaiian-style ahi poke, some seaweed salad, and some gin and tonic. Dinner. Nothing beats poke. It’s cubes of raw ahi tuna mixed with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sliced onions and chopped green onions. The recipe varies. Some people add rice vinegar, furitake, maybe some chili paste, garlic, or sriracha. It can also be made with yellow fin tuna, swordfish, or cooked octopus (tako) or cooked salmon. My favorites are the ahi and the tako.

Breakfast each day on Kaua’i was bagel, coffee and yoghurt, which we ate at the beach.

One evening we went to the Hukulau Lanai to hear a musician and had candied ahi. I can’t tell you what was in it, but it was one more form of poke. Another night we had dinner at Smith’s Luau on the Wailua River. The food was usual luau fare: Kailua pork, Lomi Lomi salmon, lau lau and poi. I’ll do another post on the luau. Suffice to say Smith’s is one of the best luaus.

We found an out of this world saimin place near our hotel. Saimin, if you’ve never had it, is one of the best grindz in Hawai’i. It is a noodle soup with influences from Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Hawaiian. The restaurant is called Saimin Dojo. I had the garlic shmoke saimin with pork belly, soft egg, veggies, rice noodles and broth (above bottom left.) Mary Fran had the chicken katsu (a fried chicken cutlet) with curry sauce(bottom right.)

Another must have grind is plate lunch. We wanted to get to Smiley’s in Lihue, but 1D2F07F7-A044-4CCB-ACF0-A1D9A581E0E2we were too late. They were closing. The server directed us to Kalena Fish Market about two blocks away. If we hadn’t been given directions and if it hadn’t been recommended, we would have passed it up. It is a small shop in an old building surrounded by warehouses and light industry. It’s a place that those who work nearby know, but few others know. The decor is functional, the menu limited. Cash only. A lot of guys from the shops came in while we were there. The food was good. Basic plate lunch style. Three protein choices and four sides. All tasty and filling. We shared a plate of kalbi ribs, shoyu chicken, meat jun (thinly sliced beef fried in an egg batter.


Kalena Fish Market

Learn about it here). It came with rice, kimchi, eggplant and some mixed vegetables.

One other unique food item on Kaua’i is Puka Dog. A puka dog is a hollowed out Hawaiian bun, which is toasted on a special rack that toasts the inside. Then a sweet relish (pineapple, lilikoi, and others) is poured in followed by a polish sausage and topped with a variety of mustards. We had it at the stand in Poipu. I thought it was an interesting concept, but not spectacular. I would not go out of my way for it.2AD5FF22-832E-4F65-BAC3-567D7FD6EBD3

The Tiki Bar is open

The drink for this weekend is Mai Tai. The basic Mai Tai, as created by Vic Bergeron (Trader Vic) consists of orgeat syrup, orange curaçao, light rum, dark rum, the juice of one lime, garnished with mint and the lime husks. Mai Tai means “out of this world” in Tahitian. When preparing it, you mix the syrup, curaçao, and light rum together with ice and float the dark rum on top. It should be a two-tone drink with a light golden color on the bottom and a dark brown color on top. Some variations use a mix of fruit juices such as orange, lilikoi, pineapple, or sour mix as the base.

There are two kinds of Mai Tai drinkers—those who stir the Mai Tai and those who don’t. I prefer to not stir. I alternate sips of the dark rum with sips through a straw of the light mixture. However, i recommend that you watch how the bartender prepares it. If it is a cheap Mai Tai, the bartender might simply float dark rum on top of fruit juices with no light rum or curaçao. In that case, stir.

We had a lot of Mai Tais. Our hotel served $3.50 Mai Tais everyday from 11 to 3 pm. The best Mai Tai on his trip was not on Kaua’i, but at the Halekulani Hotel bar, the House Without A Key in Honolulu. It was made the Trader Vic way and came with gorgeous sunset, a trio of musicians performing under a century-old kiawe tree, and Miss Hawai’i 2015 performing hula. Out of this world!



Kamoa Ukulele Shop, Kapaa, Kauai

New addition to the Troy family. A Koaloha soprano ukulele. Mary Fran bought it for me at Kamoa Ukuleles in Kapaa, Kauai on Monday. So maybe this should be Ukulele Monday. It was our last day on Kauai and I wasn’t able to post until now.

Here it is: The body is koa, The neck and head are rosewood. the fretboard is ebony. The inlays are pua abalone. She sounds as good as she looks.


Koaloha koa uke

I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted a Kamaka. Kamoa had only one Kamaka. This one just sounded better.

Look at the beautiful grain of the koa body.

Now I need to name her. Any suggestions?

2017-02-02 18.19.14Haven’t posted in awhile because I’ve been busy editing Questions Of Loyalty and getting it to my agent. The edits were completed Monday and sent to Beth. Now waiting to hear from her.

Magnum P.I. Reboot

Watched the new Magnum on Monday. I had hoped to be impressed by it, but was somewhat disappointed. The show had plenty of humor and action, which means car chases.  Jay Hernandez is a lot different from Tom Selleck as Magnum. No eyebrow waggle, no trademark aloha shirts. He’s a good action character and maybe will develop some depth. I have to admit that I’m glad he’s not Selleck. I think I’ve got more than enough Selleck in Blue Bloods and the Jesse Stone shows.

The supporting cast is the biggest disappointment. The new Rick and T.C. don’t cut it, in my opinion, but I’ll keep an open mind about them. As with the Hawai`i Five O reboot, they added a kick-ass female. The Higgins character is now a woman. John Hillerman was great in that role and will be missed. I’m hoping Perdita Weeks will be up to it.

Locale. We see Magnum paddling near Chinaman’s hat. Is that where Robin Masters’s home Is? As with the old Magnum and the new Hawai`i Five O, do not take your geography of the islands from the show. Why are there so many chase scenes up or down Tantalus? Sure, the road is winding and the views of Honolulu and the University of Hawai`i are beautiful from up there, but the road doesn’t go anywhere. It is a loop past a park and some expensive homes and back down again. It is not a short cut or direct route to anyplace on Oahu. Nobody would lead pursuers up there because all the pursuers need do is wait at the bottom for them to come back down. And if you miss a high speed turn and crash down the side of the mountain, as did the bad guys in Monday’s episode, you will not land in the ocean, but on a roof top in Manoa Valley or even Punahou School.

So much for my critique. I don’t need to tell readers that I like violent action, car chases and kick-ass babes in Hawai`i. I will be tuning in again on Monday.


Upcoming trip

We’re going back to Hawai`i. This is Mary Fran’s birthday trip. The last trip was for my seventieth birthday, so now it is Mary Fran’s turn. We are so excited.

Here’s the itinerary:

Depart Houston, Oct. 10, nonstop to Honolulu

Depart Honolulu, Oct. 10 and arrive Lihue Kauai

  • Staying Courtyard Marriott Coconut Beach
  • Sight-seeing Thurs. and Fri. Drinking mai tais in Hanalei, maybe visit some music shops to check out ukuleles
  • Saturday: Niihau Day at Kauai Museum. This is a once a year event to celebrate the culture of Niihau.
  • More sight-seeing on Sunday

Monday, Oct. 15, fly to Kona on the Big Island

  • Staying Marriott Waikoloa
  • Sight-seeing, doing research for next Ava Rome novel, specifically hope to explore Koa rain forests. Maybe do some paddle-boarding.
  • Thursday, Oct. 18, one night in Volcano House, which is planning to reopen on Oct. 14, having been closed because of the Kilauea eruptions.
  • Friday, Oct. 19, drive to Hilo
  • Staying Hilton Naniloa which is right on Hilo Bay on Banyan Tree Drive
  • Explore Hilo and the Hamakua Coast

Sunday, Oct, 21, Depart Hilo for Honolulu

  • Staying at the Moana, the oldest hotel in Waikiki
  • Mai tais at the Royal Hawaiian
  • Sunset at House Without a Key in the Halekulani

Tuesday, Oct. 23, depart Honolulu

Wednesday, Oct. 24, arrive Houston



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