Brian DiMattia's Reviews > The House Without a Key

The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers
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's review
Jul 01, 09

liked it
Read in July, 2009

One half postcard of Hawaii, one third soft boiled murder mystery, and the rest is an early Twentieth Century time and people social study. The three parts never quite mesh that well, you get the impression that the mystery is only there to excuse a book on Hawaii. But it's still affectionately written, and the mystery itself is solidly done mixing classic who-dunit twists and clues with a Gatsby-esque fish out of water hero.

I read this based on Sarah Vowell's recommendation in Nick Hornby's "Shakespeare Wrote For Money," and agree that the book is on fairly sound Political Correctness footing. If anything, Chan's work breaking barriers with white Hawaiians while demonstrating respect for his fellow Chinese and light bigotry towards Japanese characters paints him as a normal, flawed human being, instead of the caricature he could have been.

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