Murder Frames the Scene: A Hawai`i Mystery
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384pp. May 2016
Murder Frames the Scene: A Hawai`i Mystery
Author: Kneubuhl, Victoria Nalani;
Murder Frames the Scene is Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl's third novel in her Hawaii Mystery series featuring her two sleuths, part-Hawaiian Mina Beckwith and her fiancé, part-Samoan Ned Manusia. Mina Beckwith, currently an out-of-work journalist, and Ned Manusia, an accomplished playwright who sometimes serves the British government in behind-the-scenes operations, find themselves unraveling a deadly web of espionage and murder. As the story opens, Ned is in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, where he has been sent to rescue his friend Nigel, a British spy who is being ruthlessly hunted by the Japanese police. Ned brings Nigel (and Nigel's new wife) to Honolulu and discovers that Mina is embroiled with a group of eccentric artists whose numbers are being depleted in a series of dramatically staged murders. While Mina and her brother-in-law, Todd Forest, Chief of Detectives at the Honolulu Police Department, look into the murders of the artists, the Office of Naval Intelligence recruits Ned and Nigel to ferret out a spy sending reports on the activities of the Navy at Pearl Harbor to the Japanese government. The two plot lines become intertwined as Ned and Mina are enmeshed in a dangerous net of international intrigue. The plot not only places the characters in the larger context of world events but also informs the reader about some of the history of Pearl Harbor before it became a base of military operations. Like the previous novels, Murder Frames the Scene offers readers a fascinating glimpse into prewar Hawaii, full of local "characters," descriptions of familiar places in another era, and a vivid sense of the islands as much more than beaches and palm trees.

A Latitude 20 Book

"[Murder Frames the Scene] takes place in the mid-1930s during a period when the United States was concerned about a possible war with Germany and Japan. As a result, readers get not only a first-rate mystery, but also a spy novel involving pre-World War II Pearl Harbor. . . . This is a complex historical mystery that's challenging for both the detectives and the reader to solve." –Mystery Scene

"As in a skillfully created lau hala mat, the author weaves Hawaiian history, local sentiment and her keen knowledge of Honolulu’s people and culture together with the landscape, flora and fauna of this earlier Oahu, making it come alive while presaging the future we, her readers, inhabit. . . . Cinematic in scope, Murder Frames the Scene is an evenly paced, gripping story that takes us back to a Honolulu with fewer people and a slower tempo. It’s refreshing to spend a few days enjoying this simpler time and place." —Honolulu Star-Advertiser

"When corpses start to appear, Ned and Mina first assume the motive is personal. But Ned and Nigel's surveillance soon points to the possibility of more global forces at work, as they find that even a remote tropical island can feel the force of the storm gathering over Europe. Kneubuhl evokes Charlie Chan . . . with exotic locale and period setting at the forefront." —Kirkus Reviews
Author: Kneubuhl, Victoria Nalani;