Murder Frames the Scene: A Hawaiʻi Mystery
Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl
Softcover, 378 pp.
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 fiance, 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.