Surfing detective on a dog's trail, in deep kim chee
Apr 15, 2012 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
"Kula," by Chip Hughes (Slate Ridge Press, $14.95)
Another in Hughes' "surfing detective" series, this episode finds investigator Kai Cooke on the trail of a dog, instead of the other way around. Not just any dog: Kula is a surfing dog whose master is a millionaire, and, oh, yes, his wife is also missing. Initially bummed by this penny-ante assignment, Cooke soon winds up blamed for a murder. Hughes clearly has a love of potboiler mysteries, and his plot zips right along with genuine cliffhangers. His pacing is first-rate, his dialogue is snappy and this series strikes a nice balance between the Hawaii of today and the film noir memes of yesterday. But the question remains: Can a guy who wears slippahs still be a gumshoe?
"The Greatest Love Triangle Story Ever Told: Abraham, Sarah and Hagar," by Don Chapman (Duck Call Books, $14.49 at Amazon.com)
The Old Testament tale of Abraham, wife Sarah and concubine Hagar is indeed classic, fertile ground for philosophical musings thousands of years after Abraham, unable to make an heir with Sarah, impregnated his "other" wife, Hagar, who was Sarah's servant, the upshot of which was much sexual politicking and hurt jealousies in the Abraham household, as you might imagine. MidWeek editor Chapman, a former (and self-described) "boy wonder" pastor and theology student, was so inspired by this theosophical rumpty tumpty that it forms the core of this sprawling retelling of Abraham's travels and travails. He does so with good humor and a penchant for rambling, anachronistic slang. Sometimes the funny business is rather forced and obvious, but he gets credit for bringing this ancient and terribly messy "menage a trois" to life.
"The Super Duper Simple Book on Money," by Alan Akina (101 Financial)
Akina is a kind of local financial-fitness personal trainer, teaching folks the basics of staying solvent, and that's a useful life skill because it's not taught in school. This little book is a distillation of his commonsense philosophies, and the typography is a literal impersonation of a pep talk. I get the feeling it will be made available for a modest fee at his seminars. In the meantime you can buy a 10-pack for $50 from his 101 Financial outfit, and give one to each family member and then some.
"Uke-ology: A Guide for the Ukulele Enthusiast," by Dr. Richard L. "Kane'iele" Perez (Tate Publishing, $29.95)
More than a guide, this is almost an encyclopedia. Perez is an experienced educator, and it shows in this comprehensive introduction to the Hawaiian instrument. This is a one-stop shop for nearly everything you need to know, plus much more than you actually need to know. Perez's scholarly approach has resulted in pages of text -- luckily, he has a patient, enthusiastic style that shines through -- and the volume is spiral-bound to make it easy to prop up and practice with. The book includes a code to download several dozen uke melodies to play along with, a clever and useful touch. If you're not daunted by the sheer size of the work, this is an impressive aid.
"Majoring In Motherhood," by Barbra Roylance Williams (CreateSpace, $11.99 at Amazon.com)
Young Hawaii military wife and mother and horseriding enthusiast Williams has written about what she knows: a teen who deals with an unexpected pregnancy that plays havoc with her military life and riding hobby. Things settle down eventually, thanks to a growing relationship with the Almighty. Williams is not an experienced writer; much of this is fairly awkward, and the amateurish typography doesn't help. On the other hand, this book has the clear tone of heartfelt reality and a certain truthtelling honesty. It's like sitting down with a friend who needs to unburden, and when she's done you wind up admiring her gumption. You go, girl.
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