Saturday, February 19, 2011

The House Without a Key

Kanoe Miller performs at - House Without a Key
One of our favorite outings in Waikiki is to the House Without a Key in the ultra-posh Halekulani Hotel. We go there for a taste of yesteryear Hawaii and high-end entertainment. We sit under the courtyard's centerpiece 100+-year-old Kiawe (key-ah-vey) tree, sipping wine, while being serenaded by musicians - masters of Hawaiian songs - and watch Kanoe Miller as she tells tales through her gentle hula moves; all against a backdrop of the setting sun.

But almost as good as is the setting and show, is the history of how the place got its name. You see, this indoor-outdoor gathering place, honors the book that kicked off the Charlie Chan detective series, The House Without a Key, written in 1925 by Earl Derr Biggers. 

And, as we were told, that story goes. . .

The Halekulani, originally a private beech front residence, had accommodated guests since 1917.  And it was owned by a retired sea captain. Biggers is said to have conceived the series while staying in a nearby Halekulani cottage.  The House Without a Key has detective Charlie Chan solving the murder of a sea captain.  There's a belief that Charlie Chan was based on Chang Apana, a real detective in Honolulu in the 1920's, but there are questions as to whether Biggers knew him or only knew of him.

We've been hooked on the Charlie Chan series since 2008 when Academy Chicago Publishers brought the books back into print.  And after becoming enamoured with Charlie, I always wonder if Biggers might have been sitting under the same tree sipping a libation when he came up with the idea for my favorite fictional crime fighter.

Note: Click on the Kanoe Miller link above to see a video from YouTube of her performance.  The House Without A Key is on our Amazon carousel, found on the lower right side of the  homepage. I've also added the beach books I wrote about last week to

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