When a tourist is found dead on the shuttle ride between the airport and the Ainahau Hotel, it’s up to Honolulu police detectives Steven Keʻaloha Shaw, the Hero of Hotel Street, and his partner Aaron Tusitala to solve the mystery.  The list of suspects begin with a motley group of tourists who rode on the shuttle with a corpse, and grows to include the hotel staff and management, a legendary local crooner, and a mysterious blonde woman who has inconveniently caught the eye of Detective Shaw.

Like many self-published eBooks, this one suffers from a lack of good editing.  There were a number of glaring spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors throughout the book.  One of the most embarrassing was multiple use of the word, “pregAnnie” in the text.  I figured out that the word was intended to be “pregnancy” and that it was a case of “Find-Replace” gone wild.  To put it bluntly, Nancy was replaced by Annie a little too carelessly, resulting in descriptions of a woman with an “obvious pregAnnie.”  Now, I’m not sure if this error is found in the Amazon version as I purchased the Nook Book version, but it’s one that I find both humorous and sad.

Sad, because the story turned out to be rather interesting in a manner of speaking.

At first, I found the whirlwind of tourists blended together in one unidentifiable mass—much like we’d see any day on Kalakaua Avenue.  However, as the story progressed, Zackel was slowly able to define a few interesting characters among the group, providing suspicious motive for each and slowly doling out clues to provide growing suspense.  Where at first I chastised the book in my head for its poor editing and touristy feel, I ended up wanting to finish it because I was drawn into the story.  [gn_pullquote align=”right”] “Goldilocks thinks she got lucky, he told the universe.  She got laid in Hawaii by a real Hawaiian.” [/gn_pullquote] The only real painful storytelling aspect was the rather forced relationship between Detective Shaw and Annie Orbsion, the mysterious haole woman who Steve can’t help falling for.  They begin with a painfully over descriptive lovemaking scene where they, to paraphrase, “rut like animals,” followed by cringe-worthy episodes of immature yearning by Shaw as he pined over this “golden palomino” of a woman.

On the bright side, the procedural stuff and relationship between the detectives works for the most part, and the slow reveal of each suspect’s participation in the storyline fits for this kind of book.  Zackel also infuses the story with bits of cultural trivia about Hawaiʻi that, while simplistic and sometimes a bit touristy for those of us who live here, at least provide the general reader with some nice background and history about the islands.

Not being a seasoned mystery reader I probably missed a few hints from Captain Obvious, but I found the eventual reveal at the end to be a pleasant surprise.  I don’t want to give away the ending in any way (since I utterly despise spoilers), but I will say that if the murderer in the book happened to be a specific character and/or the storyline wrapped up too conveniently, I would have thrown a (manly) fit.  As it is, Zackel ends on a note that while some may find unpleasant, I found to be the perfect dose of bitter reality to wrap up this murder mystery novel.

For only $2.99 it’s a surprisingly entertaining distraction.


Murder in Waikiki:  A Novel (Nook Book edition)
By Fred Zackel
Fred Zackel, 2010
Format: eBook