Viking, Oct 2001, 22.95, 288 pp.
In 1891 at San Francisco's posh Palace Hotel, Hawaiian King Kalakau lies dying in a suite. Apparently, much of the island elite, hanger-ons, and creditors have arrived not so much out of respect, but to gain an edge after His Highness dies. Most of the entourage and several local Americans like the Examiner's Ambrose Bierce debate whether the Unites States should annex Hawaii.
However, the beloved Princess Leileiha has vanished, leaving the royal party in disarray. Sugar king Silas Underwood asks Bierce to find the missing Princess. Chronicle reporter Tom Redmond assists Bierce on his investigation. However, several individuals who would prefer Leileiha to not reappear including Redmond's amazonian half-Hawaiian girl friend Hounani Brown. Plus several other cases slow down the inquiries and the half-Hawaiian girl Redmond has begun to romance is also affected.
The sequel to the highly regarded AMBROSE BIERCE AND THE QUEEN OF SPADES is an engaging historical mystery that is the Americanization of Holmes and Watson. The story line provides insight into the political and social climate of Hawaii and San Francisco during the early part of the Gay Nineties before the American annexation. The prime story line is exciting, but subplots involving unrelated scenarios to the missing princess theme slow down the novel even as it provides greater understanding of the era. Oakley Hall has written a pleasant tale that will satisfy sub-genre fans, especially those that prefer the historical setting to the mystery setting.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner