In Ukulele Murder by Leslie Langtry, Nani Johnson has moved to Aloha Lagoon, Kauai from Kansas to play her ukelele, which she studied at Juilliard. After playing for a bar mitzvah, Nani goes to a concert of the top ukulele musician on the island, Alohalani, where she runs into the two other native ukelele musicians, Kua and Leilani, both of whom are antagonistic towards Nani for not being native Hawaiian and, if truth be told, for being a better musician than they are. After an argument with Kua, Nani goes to sit in front and then leaves as soon as the concert is over.
But not long after arriving at home, Nani gets visited by a police officer. Detective Ray informs her that Kua has been murdered, bludgeoned over the head, and Leilani claimed that Kua left the building with Nani in a heated argument. Unable to provide an alibi, Nani gets nervous, but Detective Ray doesn’t arrest her. . . yet. The next day the officer returns with news that Kua was bludgeoned with kwila wood, a very hard native tree, a type of wood that Nani had a special ukelele made from. What is worse, that ukelele has gone missing. Now Nani is a genuine suspect.
With the help of her best friend, Binny, and the blind date her mom set her up with, Nick Woodfield, Nani has to stand up for herself in investigating things before she gets arrested. Or killed. Things becomes even scarier when more people get murdered, each in a different manner. And each murder is enacted to frame Nani.
I earlier enjoyed listening to Langtry’s first four Merry Wrath books, so I was excited to see that Ukelele Murder has recently been released on audio. I was most definitely not disappointed. The plot kept me drawn into the story, with its creative side trips and clever details. The path that Nani travels in her search for the truth takes us through some interesting plot points.
However, as much as I enjoyed the plot, it is the characters who truly bring this book to life. Nani was a believable, likable character with whom we can completely identify and really want to see succeed in her life and in her ability to find the real murderer in order to stay out of prison. Binny serves as the perfect best friend, and we come to like Nick, though we understand Binny’s concern over Nick’s over- eagerness and find ourselves wondering about his motives. But the most lively character is Nani’s alcoholic, borderline mental case of a mother. The woman lives to her own drum and decorates the living room with random objects found on the island, so Nani never knows whether she’ll walk in to find coconuts or hula girls filling her living room. But further, the island life itself serves as another character in the story. We see views of the island and images of life there, from the music to the surfing and everything in between.
Susan Marlowe performs the audio edition of this book, with a strong alto voice that adds to the sense of music behind the book. She uses good voices for the various characters, both the women and men characters. The expression she uses adds to the humor that the book already contains. Marlowe effectively helps the book take us to Kauai and enjoy the experience oft1 listening to the ukelele. Pp
I really enjoyed listening to Ukulele Murder. The story was full of fun, but the characters took it to a higher level of delight. The book gave me a strong picture of Kauai and made me interested in the ukulele as an instrument. I give it five stars!
To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.