Damned in Paradise: A Nathan Heller Novel MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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Collins' books about Nathan Heller are great fun, mixing history and mystery into a jaunty stew. The latest finds Heller on his way to Hawaii to help lawyer Clarence Darrow on his last case -- defending a bizarre bunch of murderers in the notorious Massie affair. Using the actual facts of the case (a young Navy wife with social connections claimed she was kidnapped and raped by five young men in Honolulu in 1932; when the men were acquitted, her husband and her mother kidnapped one of the accused and killed him while trying to extract a confession), Collins recreates with considerable skill the natural beauty of the setting and the racial tensions of the time. Darrow comes to sad, vivid life as an aging lion at the end of his career, while other real characters like swimmer Buster Crabbe and the Chinese detective who was the model for Charlie Chan mix with Heller and other lively inventions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Seven of the eight volumes in this series, which blends classic American crime with the fictional efforts of detective Nate Heller, have been nominated for Shamus awards (two have won). This tale warrants another. Collins gives us pre-statehood Hawaii and the Massie case, which revolved around the alleged abduction and rape of a Navy lieutenant's wife and the subsequent murder of a suspect by lieutenant Thomas Massie and his mother-in-law. The sensational crime stirred racial hatreds in Hawaii and stoked a movement to place the territory under military rather than civilian rule. It's 1932, and Heller, wrapping up his involvement in the Lindbergh kidnapping case (Stolen Away), lunches with Clarence Darrow. Darrow has been lured out of semi-retirement to defend Massie, his mother-in-law Grace Fortescue and two seamen against charges of murdering one of the five mixed-race youths accused of raping Thalia Massie. As Darrow's investigator, Heller cuts through the incompetence, corruption and confusion that surrounded both the original crime and the subsequent murder of the suspect. Collins's vivid sketch of a deeply divided polyglot culture is spiced with colorful real-life characters in Darrow, Buster Crabbe and Chang Apana, the Hawaiian policeman who served as a model for Charlie Chan.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
The story is based upon a true incident that resulted from, and contained, numerous controversial incidents. The research is thorough, as usual, and the material is welded smoothly together with fiction into a fascinating novel by the very talented and multi- awarded author. And again as usual, such disparate well-known individuals of the day as Clarence Darrow and other notables of the time and Chang Apana, the Hawaiian detective believed to be the model for the popular movie character Charlie Chan, played by Warner Olan, and the Olympic swimmer, Buster Crabbe, who replaced Johnny Weissmuller as `Tarzan' and went on to become a `B' movie star are included.
Little more need be said. Damned in Paradise is a most enjoyable read that provides a fascinating review of the `facts' of a case so obviously influenced by individuals in another time when the United States was exerting its might in a `bullying' fashion, really not unlike the period of the post Mexican War and the fiasco with respect to the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Reviewed by John H. Manhold, award winning fiction/non-fiction author.