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KONA WINDS, the début novel by Japanese-American author Scott Kikkawa, is a hard-boiled noir murder mystery set in Honolulu in 1953, when Hawaiʻi was evolving from a racially stratified, near-feudal plantation colony to the multi-ethnic 50th State.
Honolulu Police Department Detective Sergeant Frankie “The Sheik” Yoshikawa, a Nisei veteran of World War II, is assigned the case of a young local Japanese woman whose body is found in Honolulu Harbor under a pier. His investigation uncovers dark motives tied to a recent dock and sugar strike and a forbidden relationship between the scion of a prominent kamaʻaina haole family and a young woman from a growing immigrant community.
Hindered by the limitations of race and class and haunted by the specter of his combat experiences in Europe and his resulting dependence on alcohol, Yoshikawa nonetheless resolves to bring the case to a successful conclusion.
Hawaiʻi has been the setting for countless mysteries but most have been cozy crime stories or books that have featured Caucasian protagonists as outsiders in an exotic setting. KONA WINDS was written with the firm belief that Hawaiʻi is more than just a pretty tropical backdrop for the mischief of tourists: it can be, and was, a terrifying, sometimes sodden place whose social realities were ugly not so long ago and continue in some respects to go unresolved. In addition, the novel provides a well-researched glimpse into the police work of post-war Honolulu, which has rarely been written about in this way before.