Sunday, 19 December 2010 10:16
altWhen Miami Vice aired during the 1980s, it was more than a crime drama. It was a showcase for South Florida, which, at the time, was changing from a mecca for retirees to a vibrant area attractive to European models, fashionistas and, unforuntately, criminals.
Who doesn't remember that opening of Miami Vice with the brilliant water, the beautiful people, the tree growing in the middle of a condo?
Hawaii Five-0 does the same for Hawaii. The opening scenes of this new show, which airs at 9 p.m. CST, 10 p.m. EST Mondays on CBS, shows a breathtakingly beautiful area that has everyone wanting to book their next flight.
Hawaii Five-0 is doing fairly well, according to the Nielsen ratings. At this point, it is the only new show to land in the Nielsen's top 20. And it has been renewed for a second season.
The series stars Scott Caan as Danny "Danno" Williams, left, and Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, right.
So does the TV series accurately depict Hawaii? Does it capture the islands' unique atmosphere?
altTo find out, Mystery Scene asked mystery authors who write about the area or who live there. I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it came from South Florida author Neil Plakcy. Here's just a few comments. Others will come later.

Neil Plakcy, author of the Mahu series, set in Hawaii. Lives in Hollywood, Fla.: I really like the new Hawaii Five-0, with a couple of reservations. First, the pluses.

Hawaii looks vibrant and exciting, and I love the homage they've paid to the original series, from retaining the character names to the the "book 'im Danno" to the theme music. It's interesting that they've switched the relationship from Steve and Danny from mentor/mentee to "bromance," in keeping with current trends.

I'd like to see more Hawaiian music (a personal love of mine) and I'm irritated by the choice of Daniel Dae Kim to play Chin Ho, because he looks so Korean rather than Chinese, and because he seems to have such a narrow acting range. I was impressed by the local knowledge represented by the prejudice against haoles that came up in a couple of situations.

The first plot was a bit hackneyed, though I thought the immigrant smuggling subplot (which I used myself in Mahu Vice) was a good note. Sadly, though, the later plots have been getting more and more unrealistic, at least in my opinion.

I wish the governor had said "out of my islands" instead of "off my island," though, to indicate that Hawaii is more than just Oahu. I hope the task force will visit the other islands.
Annette Kamalei Mahon, author of Holiday Dreams, part of a Hawaiian romance series. She is third generation Hawaiian of Portuguese/Australian extraction, now lives in Arizona: The opening credits, which seemed to be a montage of old and new, was very nice. Love that they kept the distinctive theme. I wasn't sure about the Steve/Danny interaction at first, but by the end I liked it a lot. Good push and pull there. Personally, I thought the "Danno" origination thing was lame. (I read that the actor hates having to end each show with "Book 'em Danno" but he's stuck with it.)

Having the governor be a haole woman was a nice touch, but maybe just for islanders. My husband didn't know that the current governor is a haole woman from Maui. Interesting that they used the island resentment of haoles as a sub-theme. Being Portuguese myself, I've never considered myself "haole" though my husband does. He's asked around and most people exclude the Portuguese from that designation, though not everyone.

The plot of the first episode seemed a bit thin, and I'm not big on terrorist stories. I'd prefer tales about common criminals. The human smuggling was good, as
that is a big problem and not just in Hawai`i.

Having grown up in the islands, with two sisters who inherited the coloring from the Aussie side of the family, I know that haole prejudice is a real thing. I never encountered any because everyone thinks I'm Hawaiian with my Mediterrean skin color and frizzy hair. My husband has also noticed this prejudice during our visits; he is 6'4" and pale skinned with blue eyes. He thinks his reception among the locals is similar to his experience in Japan (on a business trip). I was just surprised that it was used as a plot devise because it is not a tourist friendly kind of thing.
Debby Atkinson, author of Pleasing the Dead, has lived in Honolulu for more than 30 years: [The series has] some good stuff, but my overall impression is that there's work to be done. We do have a haole woman governor right now, and both my althusband and I reacted to her statement about "my island." Gov. Linda Lingle is pretty savvy about race and inclusiveness and I'm sure she would say "out of OUR islands."
Plural islands, too.
We thought the pidgin was lame to the point of being cringe-inducing. People speak pidgin all the time here, but the writers seemed to be trying to work in pidgin-sounding words no matter what the words meant or the characters said. For example, one character called another a manini. That word is an adjective and means small. Perhaps the writers meant malihini (newcomer), but even that was a stretch under the circumstances.
Another thing that bothered us was the aggression portrayed by the characters. I love thrillers, but fictional people still need to act true to form (and their region), don't they? Our whole family surfs, and though there are some breaks on the north shore that are competitive, usually surfing is pretty mellow -- especially the kind of waves where the Grace Park character was shown. Granted, dropping in on someone is bad manners, but it sometimes happens because it's often difficult to see what's behind you when you're out there and a big wave is roaring toward you. I've never seen anyone slug someone for it. Hope I never do!
Annette makes a good point about Iolani Palace. Yes, it has been extensively restored, and it's a museum. I must have turned on the TV late (typically). I missed that detail and Annette is right -- I can't see any law enforcement offices being placed at Iolani Palace, it just isn't realistic.
As to the haole thing, I've felt some prejudice, but either I'm numb and have my head in the sand or I've been around so long I snort at the ignorance and turn away. I thought 5-0 not only overdid it, it wasn't realistic. It's more subtle when it happens.
I hope the writers listen to locals' suggestions. The show can be a better and more realistic portrayal of Hawaii without losing its thrilling edge. Bad people are
scary and dangerous wherever they are.
Mystery Scene will continue this look at Hawaii Five-0 by authors in another blog.

Hawaii Five-0 Sets the Scene
Oline Cogdill
hawaii-five-0-sets-the-scene
altWhen Miami Vice aired during the 1980s, it was more than a crime drama. It was a showcase for South Florida, which, at the time, was changing from a mecca for retirees to a vibrant area attractive to European models, fashionistas and, unforuntately, criminals.
Who doesn't remember that opening of Miami Vice with the brilliant water, the beautiful people, the tree growing in the middle of a condo?
Hawaii Five-0 does the same for Hawaii. The opening scenes of this new show, which airs at 9 p.m. CST, 10 p.m. EST Mondays on CBS, shows a breathtakingly beautiful area that has everyone wanting to book their next flight.
Hawaii Five-0 is doing fairly well, according to the Nielsen ratings. At this point, it is the only new show to land in the Nielsen's top 20. And it has been renewed for a second season.
The series stars Scott Caan as Danny "Danno" Williams, left, and Alex O'Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, right.
So does the TV series accurately depict Hawaii? Does it capture the islands' unique atmosphere?
altTo find out, Mystery Scene asked mystery authors who write about the area or who live there. I wish I could take credit for the idea, but it came from South Florida author Neil Plakcy. Here's just a few comments. Others will come later.

Neil Plakcy, author of the Mahu series, set in Hawaii. Lives in Hollywood, Fla.: I really like the new Hawaii Five-0, with a couple of reservations. First, the pluses.

Hawaii looks vibrant and exciting, and I love the homage they've paid to the original series, from retaining the character names to the the "book 'im Danno" to the theme music. It's interesting that they've switched the relationship from Steve and Danny from mentor/mentee to "bromance," in keeping with current trends.

I'd like to see more Hawaiian music (a personal love of mine) and I'm irritated by the choice of Daniel Dae Kim to play Chin Ho, because he looks so Korean rather than Chinese, and because he seems to have such a narrow acting range. I was impressed by the local knowledge represented by the prejudice against haoles that came up in a couple of situations.

The first plot was a bit hackneyed, though I thought the immigrant smuggling subplot (which I used myself in Mahu Vice) was a good note. Sadly, though, the later plots have been getting more and more unrealistic, at least in my opinion.

I wish the governor had said "out of my islands" instead of "off my island," though, to indicate that Hawaii is more than just Oahu. I hope the task force will visit the other islands.
Annette Kamalei Mahon, author of Holiday Dreams, part of a Hawaiian romance series. She is third generation Hawaiian of Portuguese/Australian extraction, now lives in Arizona: The opening credits, which seemed to be a montage of old and new, was very nice. Love that they kept the distinctive theme. I wasn't sure about the Steve/Danny interaction at first, but by the end I liked it a lot. Good push and pull there. Personally, I thought the "Danno" origination thing was lame. (I read that the actor hates having to end each show with "Book 'em Danno" but he's stuck with it.)

Having the governor be a haole woman was a nice touch, but maybe just for islanders. My husband didn't know that the current governor is a haole woman from Maui. Interesting that they used the island resentment of haoles as a sub-theme. Being Portuguese myself, I've never considered myself "haole" though my husband does. He's asked around and most people exclude the Portuguese from that designation, though not everyone.

The plot of the first episode seemed a bit thin, and I'm not big on terrorist stories. I'd prefer tales about common criminals. The human smuggling was good, as
that is a big problem and not just in Hawai`i.

Having grown up in the islands, with two sisters who inherited the coloring from the Aussie side of the family, I know that haole prejudice is a real thing. I never encountered any because everyone thinks I'm Hawaiian with my Mediterrean skin color and frizzy hair. My husband has also noticed this prejudice during our visits; he is 6'4" and pale skinned with blue eyes. He thinks his reception among the locals is similar to his experience in Japan (on a business trip). I was just surprised that it was used as a plot devise because it is not a tourist friendly kind of thing.
Debby Atkinson, author of Pleasing the Dead, has lived in Honolulu for more than 30 years: [The series has] some good stuff, but my overall impression is that there's work to be done. We do have a haole woman governor right now, and both my althusband and I reacted to her statement about "my island." Gov. Linda Lingle is pretty savvy about race and inclusiveness and I'm sure she would say "out of OUR islands."
Plural islands, too.
We thought the pidgin was lame to the point of being cringe-inducing. People speak pidgin all the time here, but the writers seemed to be trying to work in pidgin-sounding words no matter what the words meant or the characters said. For example, one character called another a manini. That word is an adjective and means small. Perhaps the writers meant malihini (newcomer), but even that was a stretch under the circumstances.
Another thing that bothered us was the aggression portrayed by the characters. I love thrillers, but fictional people still need to act true to form (and their region), don't they? Our whole family surfs, and though there are some breaks on the north shore that are competitive, usually surfing is pretty mellow -- especially the kind of waves where the Grace Park character was shown. Granted, dropping in on someone is bad manners, but it sometimes happens because it's often difficult to see what's behind you when you're out there and a big wave is roaring toward you. I've never seen anyone slug someone for it. Hope I never do!
Annette makes a good point about Iolani Palace. Yes, it has been extensively restored, and it's a museum. I must have turned on the TV late (typically). I missed that detail and Annette is right -- I can't see any law enforcement offices being placed at Iolani Palace, it just isn't realistic.
As to the haole thing, I've felt some prejudice, but either I'm numb and have my head in the sand or I've been around so long I snort at the ignorance and turn away. I thought 5-0 not only overdid it, it wasn't realistic. It's more subtle when it happens.
I hope the writers listen to locals' suggestions. The show can be a better and more realistic portrayal of Hawaii without losing its thrilling edge. Bad people are
scary and dangerous wherever they are.
Mystery Scene will continue this look at Hawaii Five-0 by authors in another blog.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010 10:20
altHaving your name used as a character in a favorite author's novel is a thrill for any reader. A character's name also is often one of the most popular auction items at mystery fiction conferences.
Some people want to be a character, others bid on a name for a friend, relative or even a pet's name.
Don Bruns' latest novel, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Oceanview Publishing) is set against the backdrop of a traveling carnival where the rides come off the tracks and people are killed. His protagonists, stumbling and bumbling James Lessor and Skip Moore, are hired to investigate the situation.
While writing the novel, Bruns one day drove pass a farmer’s field, which had an assortment of donkeys, goats, pigs and animals. So Bruns thought he would add
a petting zoo to the carnival.
That gave Bruns' longtime publicist Maryglenn McComb an idea. Why not add Garcia, her 10 1/2-year-old, blind, 125-pound, Old English Sheepdog, to the petting zoo?
Actually, McComb said she didn't ask Bruns, she begged.
And what started as a simple idea made a plot change Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff as Bruns learned that the old dog could learn new tricks.
altIn Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff , Garcia becomes more than a bit player. In fact, according Bruns and McComb, Garcia literally steals the show and becomes a major force in the story.
Not only that, but McComb arranged for Garcia to photo-shopped into Bruns’ author photo.
Garcia's shaggy dog story continues. Garcia has taken to Twitter to share news about his book and his views on life as Garcia. Well, I imagine that McComb probably helps him. Follow him on Twitter @AmazingGarcia.
Bruns, who has auctioned off character names to raise money for charities in the past, says this dogged tale shows how a novel can take a different route than the author expects. “Fiction writers need to remember that you never know where a story will lead—and you never know where the ideas will come from. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff is a result of an idea, driving by a farm, and an off-the-wall suggestion from my publicist,” said Bruns.
As a devoted and longtime dog owner, I totally understand McComb's desire to get her dog in the novel. Starting with my first dog, Lou, when I was a year and a half, I have never been without a dog. I think I do my work when either Dash or Gizmo are at my feet, as they are now. But I don't dare show my shih tzus Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . They'll just want their own novel.
Don Bruns' Dog Story
Oline Cogdill
don-bruns-dog-story
altHaving your name used as a character in a favorite author's novel is a thrill for any reader. A character's name also is often one of the most popular auction items at mystery fiction conferences.
Some people want to be a character, others bid on a name for a friend, relative or even a pet's name.
Don Bruns' latest novel, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Oceanview Publishing) is set against the backdrop of a traveling carnival where the rides come off the tracks and people are killed. His protagonists, stumbling and bumbling James Lessor and Skip Moore, are hired to investigate the situation.
While writing the novel, Bruns one day drove pass a farmer’s field, which had an assortment of donkeys, goats, pigs and animals. So Bruns thought he would add
a petting zoo to the carnival.
That gave Bruns' longtime publicist Maryglenn McComb an idea. Why not add Garcia, her 10 1/2-year-old, blind, 125-pound, Old English Sheepdog, to the petting zoo?
Actually, McComb said she didn't ask Bruns, she begged.
And what started as a simple idea made a plot change Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff as Bruns learned that the old dog could learn new tricks.
altIn Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff , Garcia becomes more than a bit player. In fact, according Bruns and McComb, Garcia literally steals the show and becomes a major force in the story.
Not only that, but McComb arranged for Garcia to photo-shopped into Bruns’ author photo.
Garcia's shaggy dog story continues. Garcia has taken to Twitter to share news about his book and his views on life as Garcia. Well, I imagine that McComb probably helps him. Follow him on Twitter @AmazingGarcia.
Bruns, who has auctioned off character names to raise money for charities in the past, says this dogged tale shows how a novel can take a different route than the author expects. “Fiction writers need to remember that you never know where a story will lead—and you never know where the ideas will come from. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff is a result of an idea, driving by a farm, and an off-the-wall suggestion from my publicist,” said Bruns.
As a devoted and longtime dog owner, I totally understand McComb's desire to get her dog in the novel. Starting with my first dog, Lou, when I was a year and a half, I have never been without a dog. I think I do my work when either Dash or Gizmo are at my feet, as they are now. But I don't dare show my shih tzus Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . They'll just want their own novel.
Sunday, 12 December 2010 10:33
altFor personal reasons, I've been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between fathers and daughters. Sure, expand it to fathers and sons and even to parents and their children. For the record, I was lucky in that I was close to both of my parents and not a
day goes by that I don't miss them both and wish I could share what is going on in our lives.
But right now, I am thinking about fathers and daughters because that is what this blog is about.
In their latest novels, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane not only deliver enthralling plots but also their individual look at fathers and daughters add a richness to the subtext of their novels. I've gone on record before as praising both Connelly and Lehane, whose novels both often land high on my best of lists. And both maintain their high standards with Connelly's The Reversal and Lehane's Moonlight Mile.
titleIn The Reversal, Connelly's series hero Harry Bosch is dealing with the daily challenges of fatherhood for the first time. And to make the "challenge" even harder, Bosch's daughter is a young teenager. During the course of The Reversal, Bosch tries to find evidence that will prove a convicted murderer who was recently exonerated truly is guilty.
That plot alone would be enough challenge but Bosch also is learning how to be a father because he has only recently taken custody of his 14-year-old daughter, as well as learning how to be part of an extended family. Neither will come easy.
Lehane returns to his career-making series about Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro in Moonlight Mile. Patrick and Angie, now married and the parents of a 4-year-old daughter, are pulled back into the case of Amanda McCready who was 4 years old when she was kidnapped in Gone Baby Gone (1998). Now 16 years old, Amanda has gone missing again. It's not lost on Patrick that his own child is the same age that Amanda was when she was kidnapped more than a dozen years ago.
(For a more in-depth look at Lehane, check out the profile of him in the Winter issue of Mystery Scene.)
Rather than take away from the gritty plots, each author makes their hero's homelife a vital part of the story, showing the humanity in each detective. Harry and Patrick have more to lose now that they are fathers and each has to think about their child's safety,
wrestle with child care issues and how to show affection when their jobs often require stoicism.
It's especially interesting to see the stages of fatherhood that both Connelly and Lehane depict. Connelly and Lehane are both fathers and the age of their own daughters are close to that of their characters' daughters. Connelly nails the push-pull relationship of a teenager with her father, the need for independence and the need for supervision.
Lehane's scenes with Patrick and his daughter show goofiness that dads can be with their little ones and yet in several scenes Patrick acknowledges that fatherhood isn't easy.
Never once do Connelly or Lehane allow these scenes to become overly sentimental or maudlin. The scenes fit well in the course of the novel and add to each novel's richness. One time, decades ago, readers never had an inkling about a detective's private life because they didn't have one. Thank goodness times have changed.
In these two terrific novels, both Connelly and Lehane have each offered a tribute of sorts to fathers and daughters. I know I thought about my own late father as I read each.
Dennis Lehane will be one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest March 3-6, 2011, in Fort Lauderdale. Registration is now open.
Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane and Fatherhood
Oline Cogdill
michael-connelly-dennis-lehane-and-fatherhood
altFor personal reasons, I've been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between fathers and daughters. Sure, expand it to fathers and sons and even to parents and their children. For the record, I was lucky in that I was close to both of my parents and not a
day goes by that I don't miss them both and wish I could share what is going on in our lives.
But right now, I am thinking about fathers and daughters because that is what this blog is about.
In their latest novels, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane not only deliver enthralling plots but also their individual look at fathers and daughters add a richness to the subtext of their novels. I've gone on record before as praising both Connelly and Lehane, whose novels both often land high on my best of lists. And both maintain their high standards with Connelly's The Reversal and Lehane's Moonlight Mile.
titleIn The Reversal, Connelly's series hero Harry Bosch is dealing with the daily challenges of fatherhood for the first time. And to make the "challenge" even harder, Bosch's daughter is a young teenager. During the course of The Reversal, Bosch tries to find evidence that will prove a convicted murderer who was recently exonerated truly is guilty.
That plot alone would be enough challenge but Bosch also is learning how to be a father because he has only recently taken custody of his 14-year-old daughter, as well as learning how to be part of an extended family. Neither will come easy.
Lehane returns to his career-making series about Boston private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro in Moonlight Mile. Patrick and Angie, now married and the parents of a 4-year-old daughter, are pulled back into the case of Amanda McCready who was 4 years old when she was kidnapped in Gone Baby Gone (1998). Now 16 years old, Amanda has gone missing again. It's not lost on Patrick that his own child is the same age that Amanda was when she was kidnapped more than a dozen years ago.
(For a more in-depth look at Lehane, check out the profile of him in the Winter issue of Mystery Scene.)
Rather than take away from the gritty plots, each author makes their hero's homelife a vital part of the story, showing the humanity in each detective. Harry and Patrick have more to lose now that they are fathers and each has to think about their child's safety,
wrestle with child care issues and how to show affection when their jobs often require stoicism.
It's especially interesting to see the stages of fatherhood that both Connelly and Lehane depict. Connelly and Lehane are both fathers and the age of their own daughters are close to that of their characters' daughters. Connelly nails the push-pull relationship of a teenager with her father, the need for independence and the need for supervision.
Lehane's scenes with Patrick and his daughter show goofiness that dads can be with their little ones and yet in several scenes Patrick acknowledges that fatherhood isn't easy.
Never once do Connelly or Lehane allow these scenes to become overly sentimental or maudlin. The scenes fit well in the course of the novel and add to each novel's richness. One time, decades ago, readers never had an inkling about a detective's private life because they didn't have one. Thank goodness times have changed.
In these two terrific novels, both Connelly and Lehane have each offered a tribute of sorts to fathers and daughters. I know I thought about my own late father as I read each.
Dennis Lehane will be one of the guests of honor during Sleuthfest March 3-6, 2011, in Fort Lauderdale. Registration is now open.