Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Skull By Any Other Name

Professor Molly Barda finds herself hoping to stay under the radar and get tenure at Mahina State University in Hawaii in The Musubi Murder by Frankie Bow. That is not to be as Molly is dragged into a search for fast-food entrepreneur Jimmy Tanaka, the most hated man in Hawaii and a large donor to the college.

Tanaka owns a chair of fast-food restaurants that serve a Hawaii favorite Musubi - a cube of sticky rice topped with a slice of fried Spam, and then wrapped in a strip of dried seaweed. From a distance, musubis look a lot like oversized pieces of sushi. Not sure how much play that snack would get in the Continental USA, but it is apparently huge in Hawaii. When Tanaka fails to show up for a reception at the college in his honor and a prop skull appears in the middle of a fruit tray, Molly is tasked to find Tanaka.

The dysfunctional family that is Molly's department and her students makes me shudder. One example is that Molly's students submit plagiarized papers to the college's plagiarizing checker; another is the dean of her college is under a cloud. It's no wonder Molly doesn't know which way to turn. Appearing on the scene is Donnie Gonsalves, Tanaka's biggest competitor, and too-good-to-be true suitor, who also has a son in the plagiarizing group from Molly's class.

Molly is lead on a a merry chase to find Tanaka or his body and the conclusion of the book leaves a very unsettling and disturbing feeling for the reader. I'm curious if there will be others in this series.

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