Paradise, Passion, Murder: Helping to Improve Literacy

Jan 30, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Terry Ambrose

Writers, almost by definition, are dreamers. On January 26, one of my dreams came true. Paradise, Passion, Murder: 10 Tales of Mystery from Hawai‘i was published after nearly two years of preparation and work. This anthology has one purpose, to help improve literacy in Hawai’i. Every participant in this project, from Carolyn Hart–who wrote our Foreword, to the authors of the stories about murder and passion in the islands, wanted to make a difference. Our dream is to see a day when more children–and their parents–can read. Hopefully, together.

Each writer in the project willingly took time away from their already hectic lives and donated a story. We ended up with stories that will take you from the Big Island to Kaua‘i, and from the far side of Maui to the bustling streets of Honolulu. At its core, Paradise, Passion, Murder gives readers the opportunity to experience Hawai’i in all its glory…and darkness.

Our stories bring every emotion possible to the table. Toby Neal’s always-popular Lei Texeira deals with a bad girl who wants to do good. Jill Marie Landis takes us to the Tiki Goddess Bar on Kauai’s North side for a look at Hawaiian legend and mystery. On Maui, JoAnn Bassett’s wedding planner Pali Moon finds another case of murder before the wedding. And, CW Schutter’s “Danny’s Story” is the heart-wrenching story of a boy who grew up in an abusive home, wanted nothing more than to be priest, and found his faith is tested to its full extent. book

Our sleuths, be they amateur or professional, will make readers laugh and cry. Most of the stories are based on already popular characters from existing series. Whether it’s my own ever-snarky McKenna, Laurie Hanan’s mail carrier Louise Golden, or Kay Hadashi’s hot Homeland Security asset Keiko, you’ll find characters to love. But, the common denominator for all of the writers and other participants can best be described by the experience I had while at California Crime Writers in June 2015.

I had finished moderating a panel when a young woman walked up after the session and introduced herself. She told me her name was Frankie Bow and her first Hawaiian mystery, “The Musubi Murder,” was about to be released by Five Star Publishing. It turned our Frankie lived on the Big Island and loved the idea of helping to help improve literacy in Hawai’i. Though she was joining the anthology group late, Frankie was eager to participate.

Ultimately, the following writers agreed to join me in this project: JoAnn Bassett, Gail Baugniet, Frankie Bow, Lorna Collins (editor), Kay Hadashi, Laurie Hanan, Jill Marie Landis, AJ Llewellyn, Toby Neal, and CW Schutter. We banded together with the agreement that every bit of royalties from sales would go directly to Read Aloud America, a Hawai‘i 501.c.3 organization dedicated to improving literacy.

We hope you’ll join us as we transport you to paradise, where the passions run hot, and we do murder “island style.”

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Terry Ambrose is a former bill collector and skip tracer who now uses that background to write mysteries and thrillers. His debut mystery Photo Finish was a 2013 San Diego Book Awards Finalist. You can learn more about Terry on his website.


  1. What a great project! Looking forward to reading the book!!

  2. Great project.

  3. As a 35+ year veteran teacher, literacy for my students, as well as their parents, was a challenge, but rewarding. Our school had family reading events and our fourth-grade staff always put together classroom events highlighting reading as more than just for class. Great job to this author team!


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