Monday, June 9, 2014

Celebrate Hawaii Week - Aloha to Chip Hughes, The Surfing Detective, and MURDER ON MOLOKA'I


We are celebrating Hawaii this week at SOS Aloha!   We kick off the party with Chip Hughes, the creator of the Surfing Detective.  From his bio,

Chip Hughes learned to surf in San Diego in the late 1960s. He earned a Ph.D. in English at Indiana University in 1981 and taught American literature, film, writing, and popular fiction for nearly three decades at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His non-fiction publications include two books on John Steinbeck and numerous essays and reviews.

MURDER ON MOLOKA'I is Book One in the Surfing Detective mystery series:

When Boston heiress Adrienne Ridgely strides into his Honolulu office, Surfing Detective Kai Cooke likes what he sees, but doubts what he hears. Adrienne’s sister, environmental activist Sara Ridgely-Parke, plunged to her death from a mule on Moloka‘i – the first fatal incident on the soaring cliffs above Kalaupapa’s fabled leper colony. Murder, cries Adrienne, perpetrated by Sara’s ex-husband, developer J. Gregory Parke. Cooke flies to Moloka‘i, tracking tantalizing leads to an unlikely murder that, despite himself, he starts to believe in. 

Was the mule prodded or spooked or drugged? Did Parke do it for vengeance, or Adrienne for an inheritance, as Parke alleges? Soon Kai uncovers a motive more noxious than either of these – entangling him in the shady dealings of big-time developers, corrupt politicians, and underworld thugs. As he hops from island to island seeking a pivotal clue, the clock ticks down on more than the P.I.’s case or even his own life. The future of Moloka‘i itself is at stake.

Kalaupapa, Moloka'i

Ua mau ke ea o ka `aina i ka pono.
The life of the land is preserved in righteousness.

Chip Hughes plunges right into the ongoing crisis facing the Hawaiian islands - tourist development.   Kai Cooke, the Surfing Detective, is hired to investigate the death of an activist along the mule trail on Moloka'i. The mules are one way to visit Kalaupapa - the leper colony secluded on a penisula.  The mules traverse almost three miles with 26 switch backs from "topside" to the beach.  Yet the mules are reliable in their footing, so it raises suspisions that the activitist may have been murdered.  But how?

Hughes delivers a suspense filled story with vivid descriptions of the Hawaiian landscape.   Having lived in Oahu, and visited Kalaupapa, I felt Hughes transported me back to the islands. He raised my consciousness of the real struggle between developer and preservationist.    This is a quick read with little violence, other than references to the murder.  

Recommended read for fans of Hawaii, cozy mysteries, and quirky characters.

I purchased this book from Chip Hughes when he was a guest speaker for the RWA Aloha Chapter.

A view from the northeast side of the peninsula.

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment on whether (or not) you would ride the mules from topside to Kalaupapa.  Or would you rather take flight on a small propeller plane from Oahu (as I did)?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, June 14, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, June 15.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Chip and his books at

Learn more about Kalaupapa on my travel blog, ALOHA ON MY MIND, at this link.

Learn about the mule rides at

Learn more about TASTE OF ALOHA from my food review at this link.   Chef Robert Alcain hails from Moloka'i. 

126677710095089Murder at Volcano House Book Cover


  1. I would prefer to take the plane.

  2. I would want to do both lol. I did take a horse ride up a mountain in Haiti and the horse fell on the way down but I probably would still do it again.

  3. Take the plane for sure, not so sure about riding up a mountain, that is tooooo scary for me.

  4. I would ride the mules. Something different

  5. O I would d tray both but plane first

  6. A mule sounds safer than a small plane.

  7. I would want to try both things.

  8. I am scared of animals so I would take the plane.

  9. I would ride on the mules, as I don't trust those small planes.

  10. Sounds like fun in my younger days, but not now. LOL.
    Helen L.

  11. Maybe the plane, def. not the mule.

  12. I don't know which one would be safer-the small plane or the stubborn mule? I'm kind of iffy on both, maybe I could just watch from afar!! :-)

  13. I`d take the propeller plane as I`m sure the view would be spectacular!

  14. Oh, goodness. I honestly am not sure which I would choose. I am not a fan of heights, so neither idea appeals to me. I would most likely take the plane because I see that as the safer of the 2. Lol.
    Thank you for recommending a different kind of read. :)