The Green Room: Mai Huli ‘Oe I Kōkua O Ke Kai, Respect the Ocean

By Deborah Turrell Atkinson

Place: Publisher & Year: Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2005

Genres: Mystery, adventure, suspense

Series: Storm Kayama Mysteries; 2

ISBN: 9781590581988

Intended audience: Adult

Number of pages: 275 (including Glossary and References)

Setting: Oahu, Hawaii

Time period: Contemporary

Plot summary: Storm Kayama has recently started her own law practice.  She barely has time to worry about getting clients before she has her first call brought to her by “coconut wireless”.  Storm’s first client is a friend of her cousin, Nahoa, a professional surfer.  Storm can’t afford not to take divorce cases and agrees to take Stephanie Barstow as a client.  Her son Ben will be competing in the same surfing contest as Storm’s cousin, while Stephanie’s soon to be ex-husband, Marty, is planning to start a new surfing competition on Oahu’s North Shore.  Storm soon finds herself hitting the waves, as well as, questioning whether or not some of the recent surfing accidents really were accidental.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: A steady wave.

Characterization: Told in third person primarily from Storm’s perspective.  Occasionally, the perspective shifts to one of the two contest organizers – Steve O’Reilly and Marty Barstow.

Language: The glossary in the back of the book is handy for learning many of the Hawaiian terms used in the story.

Frame: The title of the book sets the frame.  Among surfers, the green room is the place where one can be held deep underwater – everything is the same color and one can’t tell up from down.

Tone: The under story is creepy, while the upper story is sun and waves.

Story line: A suspenseful, exotic mystery with fun action scenes, descriptions of Hawaiian culture, and believable characters.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Kayama, Storm (Fictitious character) — Fiction.

Surfers — Fiction.

Women lawyers — Fiction.

Oahu (Hawaii) — Fiction.

Mystery fiction.

Similar works:

Chip Hughes has written two books with a surfing detective – Kai Cooke – set in Hawaii: Murder on Molokai and Wipeout!

For other mysteries set in Hawaii:

  • Mark Brown – Ben McMillen Hawaiian Mystery Series
  • Neil S. Plakcy – Mahu Vice Series (which has an openly gay main character)

For surfing mysteries (not set in Hawaii):

  • John DeCure – Bluebird Rising
  • Elizabeth George – Careless in Red: a novel
  • John Shannon – Palos Verdes Blue
  • Jeff Shelby – Killer Swell: a Noah Braddock novel

For general fiction which includes surfing or surfers:

  • John DeCure – Reef Dance
  • Kem Nunn – Tijuana Straits: a novel
  • Don Winslow – The Dawn Patrol

And for non-fiction about two clashing surfers set mainly in Hawaii:

  • Andy Martin – Stealing the Wave : the Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo

Personal notes: I enjoyed this book.  It was a fun read – especially the parts which dealt with both surfing and Hawaiian culture.  I found the beginning of the story to be a bit choppy, but smoothed out after the first few chapters.  Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the final pages… they felt a bit off.  Storm Kayama is a plausible character, even if her luck with waves isn’t.  I was excited to find a map of Oahu in the front of the book (I love maps!), but disappointed to find that many of the places mentioned in the story are not on the map.  Same with the glossary – it was great to have most of the Hawaiian words used in the story defined here.  It would have been better if they’d all been included.

Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – woman lawyer, native Hawaiians, Hawaiians of mixed ancestry, haoles, women surfers

Deborah Turrell Atkinson’s website

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