Hawai’i 

Represent: The Descendants- Kaui Hart Hemmings

After visiting the island of Oahu for just one week in 2015, Hawai’i was one of the states I was more excited to read and write about during this project. I absolutely fell in love with this green, rocky paradise that was a mishmash of an incredible culture weaved in amongst (almost) all the conveniences of an American lifestyle. Sadly we only managed to visit one island out of eight but we spent our time wisely, exploring; beaches, historical sites, botanical gardens and anywhere else the local bus would take us.

I recognize that we only scratched the surface and saw a mere slice of Hawaiian life, living anywhere has it’s downfalls, especially when you’re the most isolated group of islands in the world. Rent is high, wages are low, jobs are in demand, everything is expensive and the first thing that greets you off the plane is a shanty town of homeless people. And that is just the one, most populated, most visited island out of them all. 

Anyone who picks up this book will be taken on a unique journey with a family who find themselves in the strangest of circumstances. Joanie, the wife and mother of the story has been injured in a boating accident and ends up in an indefinite coma. The decision to turn off her life support machine creates a chain of events that the family must overcome collectively. The daughters; Scottie (age 10) and Alex (age 17), struggle to understand what the death of their mother means, whilst dealing with regular changes within their own lives. Matt King, the husband and father confronts his own challenges of realising his shortcomings and achieving one final act before it’s too late. From a tragic accident and the heartbreaking revelation of an affair, blossoms an unusual adventure for the group. On a mission to deliver a message to the unknown man, springs a fresh understanding of each other and a new sense of family.

I found that after reading a few articles written by the author, there were definitely some similarities between her own life and her debut novel. For example, her step-father was a powerful politician on the island of Oahu with an influential surname that everybody recognized. In the book, Matt King is a well known attorney and has significant decisions to make regarding family land that will be effect the whole island. Hemming really highlights the importance of heritage and that being ‘Hawaiian’ only refers to a certain part of the population. You have to have been born there, you have to have the right lineage and even then you might be known as an outsider. I found this interesting article that explains this concept better than I ever could or should.

https://www.hawaii-aloha.com/blog/2011/06/18/what-does-it-mean-to-be-hawaiian/

Most Read: The Devil’s Star- Jo Nesbo

It’s well known throughout the world that the little islands of Great Britain deliver some of the best murder mystery TV shows and crime novels around. Unfortunately, I’d say this is probably due to the incredibly long list of serial killers who have graced our shores with their bad intent. Australia comes in at second place, which was at first interesting and then kind of unsurprising the more I mulled it over. That remote, sandy, red rock was where we sent all our bread stealing convicts after all.

Here’s the full listhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_country

Crime is my favourite genre for reading, closely followed by; fantasy, travel and history. My interest was peaked at the age of around 10, when on a stormy night (how appropriate) during a family holiday, my mum switched the channel to Midsomer Murders. I instantly fell in love with this tiny, seemingly innocent, English village that had an inordinate amount of murders. By the age of 12 I was flabbergasted why people still went out into that dark garden & querying how on earth there was anybody left alive. Tom Barnaby, played by John Nettles was my absolute favourite, my Dad even managed to get me his autograph which I still have to this day.

This brings me to the point that after the Brits, the Scandinavians are undoubtedly the best crime writers. Most people would argue that the Millennium trilogy brought to us by Steig Larsson was the catalyst for the ‘Scandinavian/Nordic Noir’ genre. For me personally this is undeniably true. I have reread the trilogy many times after first picking them up in a second hand book store in India. Following the success of the writing, murder mystery TV series have followed gaining international acclaim. The Killing (Forbrydelsen) from Denmark, Trapped from Iceland (Ófærð) and The Bridge (Broen/ Bron) which was a joint venture between Sweden & Denmark.

My first surprise from this book was to discover that the author is in fact, a man. In England women generally spell the name Jo with an ‘o’ and men with an ‘e’ on the end. In the story of the Devil’s Star we are introduced to the police officer Harry Hole who has featured in a number of books since 1997. Whilst struggling to track down a serial killer in Oslo, he is also fighting his own battles of alcoholism and attempting to prove the involvement of one of his colleagues in shady activities. Jo Nesbo takes us on twists and turns presenting multiple suspects to keep us guessing along the way.