Aloha, Lady Blue: A Mystery

Aloha, Lady Blue: A Mystery

4.8 6
by Charley Memminger

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This riveting new mystery series pays loving homage to legendary author John D. MacDonald. Stryker McBride is a former crime reporter who lives on a hugely expensive houseboat, "the Travis McGee." When Stryker receives an unexpected SOS call from a sultry beauty queen, he agrees to look into the suspicious death of the woman's grandfather. As Stryker investigates,


This riveting new mystery series pays loving homage to legendary author John D. MacDonald. Stryker McBride is a former crime reporter who lives on a hugely expensive houseboat, "the Travis McGee." When Stryker receives an unexpected SOS call from a sultry beauty queen, he agrees to look into the suspicious death of the woman's grandfather. As Stryker investigates, he encounters a cast of characters as diverse as Hawaii itself, including Auntie Kealoha, a charming entertainer turned mobster, and her 400 pound right-hand man, a Chinese-Hawaiian named Tiny Maunakea. Soon, Stryker discovers a deadly secret buried deep in the heart of Hawaii that has consequences much larger than one old man's death.

Vivid and exhilarating, Aloha, Lady Blue transports you right to the heart of an island paradise populated with exotic women, glorious scenery, and whispered scandals. Memminger brings Hawaii to life so vividly that you can almost hear the pounding of the surf and catch the scent of plumeria on the breeze. Fans of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series will be swept away by this delicious, action-packed tale.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Deft storytelling, intrigue galore, and island splendor distinguish humor columnist Memminger’s strong first novel. Former investigative journalist Stryker McBride maintains a somewhat secluded lifestyle aboard his luxurious houseboat, the Travis McGee, docked at the Bayview Yacht Club on Oahu’s windward shore.One phone call from his high school crush, Amber Kalanianaole Kam, whom he hasn’t seen in 20 years, changes everything. Amber wants Stryker to do a little digging into the suspicious death of her grandfather, Chinese businessman Wai Lo Fat.Stryker doubts the sincerity of Amber’s request, but looks into the case anyway, at what turns out to be great personal peril as secrets of the past combined with the local mafia lead Stryker into Hawaii’s dangerous criminal underground. Hilarious side characters (like Stryker’s lawyer, Sue Darling) and side stories (like the tale of Franky Five Fins) lend ballast. Readers will want to see a lot more of this engaging hero in the John D. MacDonald tradition. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Whatever you call it, McDonald homage or Memminger original, it's pretty darned good.” —Booklist

“A great read—extraordinary! For anyone who lives in Hawaii, visits Hawaii, or even dreams of going to Hawaii. Oh, what the heck, it’s for anyone who loves a crackling good story!” —Pat Sajak, long-time host of Wheel of Fortune

“Everything you want in a mystery-thriller: beautiful, dangerous women, ugly, even more dangerous thugs, a rash of inexplicable murders, and, best of all, two fairly unreliable canine companions, Kane and Lono. The only question is, 'when's the next one coming out?'” —Bruce Cameron, New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose

“In a long and legendary career as a crime reporter in Hawaii, Charley Memminger has met more than his share of hit men, cons, and colorful characters. They leap off the page, packing a Hawaiian punch and taking the reader to a lusty luau on the underside of paradise. Smart, funny, tough, and sparkles with insight. Stryker McBride gets my vote as Hawaii's newest hero. I hate to say it, but move over, Magnum.” —Kinky Friedman

“Charley Memminger should be named Hawaii's state gem. Sorry black coral, he's just better than you are. His great first novel made me feel like I just took a Hawaiian vacation, and not your usual boring beach vacation, but a thrilling trip filled with corrupt cops and libidinous Russians.” —A.J. Jacobs, author of The Know-it-All

“Memminger does for Hawaii what John D. MacDonald did for Florida: makes it come alive.” —David Houle, author of The Shift Age

“Thoroughly authentic and entertaining. A fast and furious ride with unforgettable characters, hot Hawaiian nights, and a dark and dirty secret that could scar the face of America's paradise.” —Andre and Maria Jacquemetton, executive producers of Mad Men

“Chilling and sometimes hilarious… Shines with a cruel brilliance and an honest hypnotic power.” —Frank South, executive producer of Baywatch and Melrose Place

Library Journal
The novel’s protagonist, Stryker McBride, sports a bad porn name, lives on a houseboat circa Miami Vice Don Johnson, is far too sexually successful (one word, threesome), and lives in Hawaii (Magnum, P.I. marathon, anyone?). Even with a tired setup like this, Memminger creates a spirited detecto story. McBride is an ex-journalist living at the Bayview Yacht Club on Oahu with his two German Shepherds. He’s recovering from an assault that forced him into retirement and semi-seclusion; the same incident has made virtually every cop on the island hate his guts. When his high school crush seduces him in order to look into the death of her father, McBride’s bs meter lights up, only to be overridden by his dick. The rub is that the father owned a taro field which, by all that is American and capitalistic, should have been plowed under to make way for McMansions ages ago. So what gives? Ex-journalist himself, Memminger’s writing flows easily, and though McBride’s history is dense, everything remains quite clear. This is perfect for a winter’s day read because places like Kaneohe Bay, Waimanalo, and the Koolau Mountains sound awfully dreamy when it’s four degrees outside.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Humor columnist Memminger's first novel follows a prematurely retired newsman through the paradise of the Hawaiian Islands as he unearths some old and very dirty secrets. Since corrupt Sgt. Jake Stane ended both Stryker McBride's career at the Honolulu Journal and Officer Jeannie Kai's life when he shot them two years ago, Stryker hasn't been looking for trouble. Mourning Jeannie Kai and more or less satisfied that Stane's rotting in prison, the former crime reporter has been living aboard the Travis McGee, dry-docked at a yacht club for which he's volunteered to serve as night watchman. But if trouble's going to find him, it might as well be in the person of Amber Kalanianaole Kam, the high school crush who wants Stryker to find out why her ancient grandfather Wai Lo Fat, a co-founder of Four Gates Enterprises, drowned in five inches of water in a taro field. Amber's worried that he's been the victim of foul play; medical examiner Dr. Melba McCall assures Stryker that he hasn't. So Stryker, whose every move is shadowed by obvious bad guys like Dragon Boy Danny Chung and organized crime enforcer Tiny Maunakea, starts digging, and in no time at all, he's dug up enough to ruffle the feathers of both Auntie Kealoha, the Godmother of Hawaiian crime, and Amber, who fires him and throws him out. By this time, though, Stryker, who's obviously read a fair number of books about freelance investigators, has his teeth in the case and refuses to let go. He won't be satisfied until he's traced Wai Lo Fat's death to a coverup of a shameful crime committed before he was born. Colorful characters, shaggy plotting, a seemly modicum of wisecracks, and enough expository and scenic asides for a guidebook.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


It was one of those typically blustery mornings in late August when rain squalls march across Kaneohe Bay from the eastern ocean, one after the other like soggy invading battalions. I was in the day cabin of the Travis McGee, my fifty-foot-long Vagabond houseboat, nursing along my first meal of the day, which I had come to refer to as Honey Bunches of Budweiser because it sounded healthier than “swigging beer for breakfast.” The gods were restless, pacing outside the screen door on the covered aft deck, waiting to be fed. The two German shepherds, Kane and Lono, had been on duty all night, patrolling the grounds of the Bayview Yacht Club, a small suburban club on the windward side of Oahu where I kept my boat. As the nominal night watchman, I was the only club member allowed to live on his boat. Keeping an eye on two piers berthing about seventy-five boats, a swimming pool, two tennis courts, and the club’s longhouse and bar wasn’t as difficult as guarding Fort Knox or even Taco Bell, especially with the gods doing most of the heavy lifting.

I took the gods two large metal bowls with dry dog food mixed with leftover spaghetti and meat sauce from the night before, which they tucked into with the restraint of hyenas bringing down a Serengeti wildebeest. They were still wet from their last patrol, so I couldn’t let them inside. I’m not the greatest housekeeper in the world, but you don’t spend a couple of hundred thousand bucks on a houseboat just to have it smell of Eau de Damp Dogs.

I had already taken my morning exercise, diving off the end of A Pier and swimming the half mile along the edge of the channel to the last reef marker and then back. I was still in pretty good shape for a gentleman of a certain age. Nothing like when I was a nationally ranked butterfly specialist, but I wasn’t ready for a walker and ear trumpet just yet.

I finished my breakfast with a last swig and walked back inside. The houseboat came with twin Merc 230-horsepower engines, two seventy-five-gallon fuel tanks, two bedrooms with baths, two wet bars, galley, covered lanais fore and aft, and a day cabin big enough to stage the finale of Oklahoma! The day cabin was ringed by picture windows that let in light no matter what time of day when the blinds were open. It was bordered on one side with a leather sofa facing the big Sony. A wet bar was in the corner, and elsewhere in the room were coffee tables, another couch, and a couple of chairs for hypothetical guests. The galley was separated from the main room by a counter and contained all the usual appliances you’d find in a regular kitchen except for a garbage disposal. There was no sewer hookup.

Upstairs, or up the ladder, as the grumpier old salts at the club liked to remind me, was a second deck with a state-of-the-art flying bridge, the other wet bar, a hot tub, a couple of kayaks, surfboards, and a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 Jet Ski. A guy has got to have his toys.

I’m told there are also a couple of anchors somewhere on the boat, but I hadn’t had to use them because I had yet to put the Travis McGee in the water. The thing about a smallish yacht club is that there are only so many wet slips, especially slips that can handle a fifty-foot-long houseboat, and Bayview Yacht Club boat owners tend to hang on to their slips until they die.

You’d think that since the average age of a club member seemed to be about 114, boat slips would become available rather frequently. But it’s the members of the tennis fleet, the ones who get daily exercise and restrict their alcohol intake, who die off regularly. The geezers who own boats, who drink all day in the Longhouse Bar reliving the glorious days of sail when Admiral Nelson ruled the sea, these guys apparently live forever. It must be all those vitamins in the rum.

So the Travis McGee had been sitting on blocks at the water’s edge for the past year and a half, sort of like my life.

I looked at the cluttered desk near the hallway that passed as my office. The red light on the telephone blinked on and off indicating there was a voice message, one I had already listened to three times. It was from Amber Kalanianaole Kam, a girl I had had a huge crush on in high school but hadn’t laid eyes on for probably twenty years. I pushed the button to hear the message a fourth time. Her voice sounded fragile, like a piece of fine porcelain about to shatter.

“Stryker,” she said. “You might not remember me, but we went to Punahou together. My grandfather Wai Lo Fat died in a terrible accident a week ago. Stryker, I think I need your help.”


Copyright © 2013 by Charley Memminger

Meet the Author

CHARLEY MEMMINGER is an award-winning humor columnist, screenwriter, and author who is based in Hawaii. A former crime and investigative reporter, Memminger's work has appeared nationally in magazines and newspapers. He was twice named the top humor columnist in the country by the National Society for Newspaper Columnists. He lives in the sleepy windward Oahu bay town of Kaneohe with his wife, cat, love birds, geckos, and other indigenous island wildlife.

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Aloha, Lady Blue: A Mystery 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
TurboLink More than 1 year ago
Charley Memminger is a beloved former Honolulu Advertiser columnist whose “Honolulu Light” column was eagerly anticipated with each update. I was delighted to learn he’d published a new book “Aloha, Lady Blue,” different from former publications, more of a crime mystery. That venue is not my normal reading fare, but it was Charley Memminger who we’ve missed, so it was worth the effort to take a look. I was delighted to find both a well-developed storyline and his standard mastery of understated though hilarious, laugh out loud lines. In fact, it was my sister in Virginia that alerted me to this book being published. She listened to the audio version, and I am certain missed most of the little hidden Easter egg prose that he crafted. To say he crafted it is probably going too far, it’s really the way he expresses himself in general, and that’s what makes it so much fun. My sister also reported that the audio version’s reader murdered Hawaiian name pronunciation, so read the book, much moh bettah. There was one continuing characteristic that made this book gangbusters, besides a very well developed plotline with multiple side stories, and that’s Charley’s very accurate description of relevant Oahu multi-culture places and style, as well as faithfully and accurately naming restaurants and other things we know (was that product placement Charley?). When he’s disguised something to protect the guilty (or innocent), he only changed a couple letters in the name to be able to claim “no foul,” which isn’t hard to do with Hawaiian names. And in a salute to a former well known Hawaii-based detective TV series, Charley gave us Stryker McBride’s gods Kane and Lolo, who add a certain balance to it all. While I never much cared for detective mysteries, I hope Charley will publish more of the Stryker McBride series (well, it won’t be a series unless he does). And OBTW, Stryker gets his 10 minutes of fame to set the world right in the end. Men everywhere are cheering. Aloha.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, Charley is my brother, but this story captured me. His humor was terrific. Very good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was upset when Aloha, Lady Blue was finished. I was reading Memminger's book at the same time I was reading Anderson's The Drummer. Wow two winners. Lady Blue has fantastic characters. I loved the style. Great depth of the local culture. Bring on Memminger's next read.
Howard_Daniel More than 1 year ago
Two thumbs up – and five stars! Fans of Charley Memminger, Hawaii’s national-award-winning humor columnist (“Honolulu Lite”), will love his first novel, “Aloha, Lady Blue.” Although the intricately woven plot of this thriller will keep you turning the pages way past your bedtime through a series of bizarre and entertainingly crafted episodes, the author’s funny streak will keep you smiling too. The elderly Chinese victim of the crime that Memminger’s hero, Stryker McBride, is trying to solve is called Wai Lo Fat. McBride describes his “first meal of the day, which I had come to refer to as Honey Bunches of Budweiser because it sounded healthier than ‘swigging beer for breakfast.’” The appeal of the novel is deepened by its ample serious side: the insights it provides into the not-always-pretty history and delicious multi-ethnic culture of the Aloha State, as well as its look at the seamy side of paradise, something Memminger knows well thanks to his years as an investigative reporter (unparalleled training for a future humor columnist!) who had his share of up-close-and-personal encounters with some of the more notorious denizens of the Islands’ underworld. Two thumbs up for “Aloha, Lady Blue” – and if I had more thumbs, they’d be up too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago