From Publishers Weekly
While King Kalakaua of Hawaii lies dying in a San Francisco hotel room, celebrated author-cum-detective Ambrose Bierce and his young companion, Tom Redmond, get the call to find a missing member of the royal entourage in this entertaining, if choppy, historical set during the winter of 1890-91. As in Hall's first novel in the series, Ambrose Bierce and the Queen of Spades (1998), Redmond plays an engaging Watson to Bierce's Holmes. Redmond falls in love with the "monumental" Haunani Brown, a beautiful Hawaiian who is visiting her uncle, California poet Edward Browne. Simultaneously, millionaire Aaron Underwood hires Bierce to find Princess Leileiha, who's betrothed to potential heir to the throne Alexander Honomoku and is a close friend of Haunani. The two threads of the story romance and mystery are woven inevitably, expertly, together. Since the king has named no successor, the fate of Hawaii as well as that of U.S. imperial aspirations, and the ambitions of Underwood's father, the frightful sugar baron Silas Underwood hangs in the balance. Not surprisingly, murder, mayhem and even magic come into play. The sprinkling of old-fashioned and Hawaiian terms throughout the text, such as "instanter" and the delightful "panipani," adds period flavor. The author, alas, breaks up the narrative with short expository sections that read like nothing so much as afterthoughts. On the whole, though, this book makes for a captivating rollick through Old Frisco.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
The second adventure of San Francisco journalist Ambrose Bierce and fellow reporter Tom Redmond takes place in 1890, as King Kalakaua of Hawaii becomes ill during a visit to America and is taken to San Francisco to await his death. There are various possible successors to the throne, and interested parties crowd the king's bedside, hoping for a new monarch sympathetic to their points of view. Hawaiian nationalism and tradition collide with American desire for sugar profits and control of well-situated Pearl Harbor, as well as the eventual annexation of the islands. In the midst of the uproar, Princess Leileiha, the fiancee of a possible royal successor with close ties to wealthy American sugar magnates, disappears. The royal counselor is then murdered. Bierce and Redmond must untangle complicated political and family ties, as well as a bit of Hawaiian voodoo, to find the princess and solve the crime. Excerpts from Bierce's Devil's Dictionary
heading each chapter add humor to this intelligent, richly detailed mystery. Carrie BisseyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved