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Pago Pago Tango (Jungle Beat Mystery) [Kindle Edition]

John Enright
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Detective Sergeant Apelu Soifua spent seven years in the San Francisco Police Department, where the job was just a job and solving crimes required cool detachment. But back home on American Samoa, life is personal—especially for a cop. Because on a small island where no one is a stranger and secrets are widely known but never discussed, solving crimes requires a certain…finesse.

Here, Apelu must walk the line between two cultures: Samoan versus American, native versus new. And that gulf never yawns wider than when a white family’s home in Pago Pago is burglarized. And what appears to be a simple, open-and-shut case turns out to anything but. As the evidence piles up, Apelu follows a tangled trail between cultures, dead bodies, hidden codes, and a string of lies on his hunt for the ugly truth buried at the heart of paradise.

Set against the steamy backdrop of the Samoan jungle, this thoughtful whodunit introduces a memorable new gumshoe to the ranks of detective fiction.



Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Detective Sergeant Apelu Soifua of the American Samoa PD is called to a palangi (Caucasian) enclave to check on a burglary at the home of a vice president of the island’s largest industry, a tuna cannery. A VCR and some videotapes have been stolen; the VP dismisses the theft as unimportant, but the man’s shrewish wife and flirtatious twentysomething daughter tell different stories, and Apelu finds himself in a murky case that might be routine—or might be deadly. Apelu faces many obstacles, not least the fact that the police force is a “palangi invention.” Prior to the Americans’ arrival, villages policed themselves, and chiefs meted out justice. Enright’s portrait of cultural collision is the heart of this engaging series debut. The insights into Samoan society, culture, and history at first seem like interesting digressions, but they ultimately become integral to understanding Apelu’s approach to the case. Fans of crime in exotic settings will likely enjoy this one. — Thomas Gaughan

About the Author

John Enright was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1945. After serving stints in semi-pro baseball and the Lackawanna steel mills, he earned his degree from City College while working full-time at Fortune, Time, and Newsweek magazines. He later completed a master’s degree in folklore at UC-Berkeley, before devoting the 1970s to the publishing industry in New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. In 1981, he left the United States to teach at the American Samoa Community College and spent the next twenty-six years living on the islands of the South Pacific. Over the past four decades, his essays, articles, short stories, and poems have appeared in more than seventy books, anthologies, journals, periodicals, and online magazines. His collection of poems from Samoa, 14 Degrees South, won the University of the South Pacific Press’s inaugural International Literature Competition. Today, he and his wife, ceramicist Connie Payne, live in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Product Details

  • File Size: 473 KB
  • Print Length: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (October 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007VPZOXK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,058 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Noir in American Samoa September 1, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had the rare good fortune to have a job that allowed me to get to know the terrritory of American Samoa, the only flag-flying part of the United States south of the equator. I visited the territory twice and was impressed by the beauty of the islands and by the strong American patriotism of the people. American Samoa has a unique relationship with the United States which allows its inhabitants to practice the Fa'a Samoa, or the traditional Samoan way of life. Samoa presents a challenging mixture of local and American values.

The fond memories I have of American Samoa led me to this new book, "Pago Pago Tango" by John Enright. [Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa is pronounced "Pango Pango"]. Enright is a mainland American who lived in Samoa and taught at the American Samoa Community College (which I visited) for many years before returning to the United States.

It was a pleasure to visit American Samoa again in this book with Enright as a guide. I recognized the places he describes --the government buildings, the American Samoa National Park with its rickety cable car which somehow I found the nerve to ride, the hotel, the cannery, the airport, the LBJ Hospital, the local jail and its culture, the small local shops and restaurants, and more. It was recollection for me while it will be a new world for most American readers.

Enright has written a complex involved mystery centring upon a Samoan detective, Apelu Soifua. Pelu, as he is called, spent much of his childhood in San Francisco followed by seven years as a detective on its police force before returning to his native island. Pelu's life and detective work shows the tension between mainland and Samoan culture, a tension mirrored in American Samoa itself.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of a slow waltz than a tango September 15, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This murder mystery, set on American Samoa, is as much a Samoan cultural study as a crime story. Pago Pago Tango is a quiet little book that unfolds slowly, matching the pace of life on a tropical island.

The mystery itself is quite simple - I figured it out well before the final pages. But, the insights into Samoan culture and the likable characters kept me interested and engaged in the story until the end. Pago Pago Tango introduces us to Detective Sergeant Apelu Soifua, but to me, he remains a bit of a mystery, even at the end of the book. This is not a bad thing; I'm looking forward to seeing his character develop through future books.

If you like your mysteries filled with non-stop action, gunfights, and wild chases, this book is not for you. But, if you want to try a low-key story with interesting characters and an exotic locale, I recommend Pago Pago Tango.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars malo,sole! good, but... January 4, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a native Samoan and a member of the local government, the book held a lot of personal appeal for me on many fronts. Perhaps any critique i would add would only be construed as partial, but i did want to note the inaccuracy of the author's use of what is essentially Hawaiian-creole pidgin to represent the colloquial speech of the Samoan locals and the book's protagonist within the story. Samoans most definitely do not speak with said Hawaiian-based slang (use of the terms `poke,' `kahuna', and 'brah' among others)and most would find it insulting even to suggest it. Enright has lived among us long enough to comprehend such reservations exist. Still, it's but a minor complaint and doesn't certainly rob the book's story of it's narrative. All in all, a solid and quick read that paints a part of American Samoa's more livelier corners. Malo lava le taumafai!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is set in American Samoa, with a Samoan police detective (Apelu, AKA Pelu) as the central character. The author spent many years in the Pacific and apparently has first hand knowledge of life in American Samoa and the characteristics of the Samoan people and culture. I greatly enjoyed being able to experience that culture - life in American Samoa - through this book. I did not give the book five stars because the book is somewhat less successful as a mystery. The pace was a bit slow, the emphasis was on characters and island life, and it was fairly obvious to me who Pelu should have been keeping an eye on but was not.

The story involves a family of American expats (father Gordon Trurich is an executive at the tuna-canning factory; Debbie, his young adult daughter, who is fitting in fairly well; and his second wife, Karen, who hates living in Samoa and uses various substances to ease the burden). The wife reports a burglary at their house in which a collection of videos was stolen. Apelo, a Samoan who spent most of his life in California, including a number of years in the San Francisco Police Department, is sent to investigate. Gordon does not seem all that concerned and is even evasive. Apelo has enough time on his hands to follow up on his suspicions that there's something unusual about this burglary. In the meantime, Apelo is tangentially involved in a couple of murder investigations and wonders if there's a connection between this burglary and these crimes. The pace picks up considerably in the final chapters, with a confrontation and a night-time chase.

For me, the best part of the book was reading about Samoa and life in American Samoa. As noted, the mystery unfolds fairly slowly, with plenty of descriptions of people, settings, and the culture.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable
I really enjoyed this crime caper! I will definitely by reading the next one.
Published 4 days ago by Mark James Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars Time well spent
This is a really enjoyable, easy read.....reminiscent of "Bangkok 8" by John Burdett. Likeble, local cop weaves culture with suspense. Read more
Published 11 days ago by SoFlaGal
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book. The writing is crisp
This is an excellent book. The writing is crisp, fresh and thoroughly original. A Samoan policeman, unarmed as all of his colleagues are, looks deeper than some would like into... Read more
Published 13 days ago by James K. Bashkin
4.0 out of 5 stars I found this book interesting on two levels
I enjoyed this book on two levels; first, it is a good story well told. The main character, a police detective, is interesting and multifaceted, someone easy to root for. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Pago Pago Bingo
This is my first time to read a book by John Enright. I was intrigued by this series of books because someone in my family lived for awhile in American Samoa. Read more
Published 18 days ago by amac
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read for a quiet evening..
Well written with a few twists and turns. plot was deep enough to keep my interest.
Published 20 days ago by John Q. Public
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting novel with a surprising story line and ending ...
Very interesting novel with a surprising story line and ending. This book was hard to put down and was well written.
Published 26 days ago by DRB01
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
This book has engaging characters, an interesting, though not entirely unexpected, plot twist and lots of information about Samoa and it's culture.
Published 1 month ago by Bonnie Isaacs
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book
Very good descriptions of the Territory of American Samoa. Recently visited there and enjoyed the way the author identified various parts of the island.
Published 2 months ago by Ron Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars A romp in Polynesia
Actually, I enjoyed the Polynesian laid-back attitude and voice of this book. While I am not usually the reader of cop stories, I found this one interesting because of the flavor... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Martha A. Williams-Hermon
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More About the Author

John Enright was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1945. After serving stints in semi-pro baseball and the Lackawanna steel mills, he earned his degree from City College of New York while working full-time at Fortune, Time, and Newsweek magazines. He later completed a master's degree in folklore at UC-Berkeley, before devoting the 1970s to the publishing industry in New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. In 1981, he left the United States to teach at the American Samoa Community College and spent the next twenty-six years living on the islands of the South Pacific. Over the past four decades, his essays, articles, short stories, and poems have appeared in more than seventy books, anthologies, journals, periodicals, and online magazines. His collection of poems from Samoa, 14 Degrees South, won the University of the South Pacific Press's inaugural International Literature Competition. Today, he and his wife, ceramicist Connie Payne, live in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

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