Book Trailer for Pilikia

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hawaiian Mystery Review: Too Hot for Hawaii

Too Hot For Hawaii, by Thomas B. Dewey, Popular Library Eagle Books, 1960, 159 pages.

Pete Schofield is a private eye from California who arrives in Honolulu right before Hawaii joins the Union. When we first meet him he is tailing a gorgeous redhead down Kalakaua Avenue past the Moana and the Surfrider. The redhead is wearing a brief swimsuit, sunglasses and, would you believe--high heel pumps? For two full pages we get a leering account of every jiggle she makes. But then the surprise--the woman is Schofield's wife.

Schofield is one of the goofball detectives that were popular in the fifties and sixties. He's not very bright. It's not even clear if he's good with a gun. Despite his shortcomings, he manages to make himself attractive to the ladies, which only compounds his problems. The saucy missus Schofield is neither understanding nor forgiving when his attentions are directed elsewhere.

Diversion number one is a Chinese man who collapses in Schofield's hotel room and dies with a knife in his stomach. Diversion number two is the man's widow, a leggy, full-breasted Chinese dancer with a shady past. Schofield could easily solve his marital problems by being more communicative with his wife. He isn't, however, and that leads to frustration all around.

The reader gets the six-night, seven-day tour in this story--Waikiki, Diamond Head, Chinatown and the Pali Lookout. Schofield's guide, and the reader's, is a wise-cracking, pidgin-speaking cab driver named Yoshi. Along the way we meet sinister Chinese villains, some suspicious Hawaiian cops, a tough-guy from Texas and, of course, two beautiful women. There is danger galore, but the real suspense is in wondering if Schofield and his wife will ever get together in the same bed.

Too Hot for Hawaii is fun, light-hearted fare. It is a trip back in time when Hawaii was still a territory and sex was only hinted at in mysteries. The cover, no doubt, got many an adolescent boy in trouble when Mom found it under the mattress; but those were simpler times before American readers lost their innocence.

Dewey is a fine writer who knows how to entertain. This is one to read at the beach with a Mai Tai.

Which beach? Queen's Surf, of course.