Showing posts with label Charlie Chan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charlie Chan. Show all posts

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

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More 'Novel' Destinations

I've said before, we think the research is half the fun of the trip, so in preparation of our upcoming trip to Hawaii, we've dug out some of our favorite novels to get us thinking about sun, sand, sea and swaying palm trees. Among our favorite reads: Stories of Hawaii by Jack London, a collection of short stories he wrote as result of his five-month stay in 1907 and subsequent trips in 1915 and 1916.

Another favorite that kept us laughing is Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux -- this is one you either love or hate, as this noted writer tells the tale of a down-and-out writer who becomes manager of the fictional Hotel Honolulu (actually it reminds us both of the places we stayed decades ago just out of college).

Last year a wise publisher began re-issuing the six books that make up Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan mystery series, about the charming Honolulu detective who quickly won our hearts after reading the first book. Trying to make them last as long as possible, we are just reading our third, this one, "The Black Camel" - which was made into a movie in 1931.

Honolulu Stories, Two Centuries of Writing, a tome of more than 1,000 pages, edited by Gavan Daws and Bennett Hymer, is both a history book and a collection of beautiful poetry, lyrics, and stories. We found it at a Costco in Honolulu and debated the wisdom of buying such a bulky, weighty book. . .it is such a treasure we haven't regretted succumbing to its call.


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