Nate Heller novels are always fun. When I reviewed the last one I had read, I made the observation that you must accept one big whopper: that a single detective could do everything he does, in all of the various historical cases the author gets him involved in. If you can live with that, then you'll thoroughly enjoy the books, as I do.
In this installment, it's early in Heller's career, and he's still a Chicago cop. He's finishing up the first part of his involvement in the Lindberg kidnapping when Clarence Darrow calls. Heller knows Darrow because Heller's father owned a radical bookstore some years before, and Darrow was a customer. Darrow wants an investigator to accompany him to Hawaii, and help him with the defense of a quartet of accused murderers, who apparently killed a man accused of rape. The accused include the rape victim's husband and her mother. The kicker is that all of the accused rapists were Asian or Polynesian of some sort, and the rape victim, and all of those accused in the killing, are white. Racial tensions are running high when Heller and Darrow arrive in the islands.
The story is typical Collins, and a rather good example of what he does. The mystery is well-presented, and interesting. The author knows the characters, and the issues, involved in the real-life crime that he portrays. Most people think that Hawaiians are easy-going types, and many are, but there is also a considerable amount of anger about past discrimination on the island, percieved or real. This book does a good job of portraying that.
The other thing Collins always does is cameo appearances by celebrities. In addition to Darrow, and the defendants in the case, Heller runs into a young Buster Crabbe and a much older Chang Apana. The latter was a well-known Honolulu police detective who was the basis for Earl Der Biggers' character Charlie Chan. Amusingly, Detective Apana repeats some of Charlie Chan's quotes from the movies, with tongue firmly in cheek.
I really enjoyed this book. I think most others who are interested in history, and in detective novels, would enjoy it also.