Sunday, August 13, 2017

REVIEW: The Pearl Harbor Murders

The Pearl Harbor Murders
Author: Max Allan Collins

In his Disaster Mystery series, Max Allan Collins takes a major event in history and wraps it in a fictional mystery, placing a famous person in the midst of the turmoil. The Pearl Harbor Murders is the third book in the series. The first two mysteries occurred on the Titanic and at the scene of the Hindenburg disaster. The Titanic mystery introduced me to a mystery writer I hadn't heard of before: Jacques Futrelle (who actually died in the Titanic sinking). Since then I have enjoyed many of his detective stories! The Hindenburg mystery featured creator of The Saint, Leslie Charteris, investigating a murder on board the famous airship before it exploded. (Charteris was not on the Hindenburg when it exploded, but he was a passenger on its earlier maiden voyage). I loved both of the first books in the I quickly moved on to The Pearl Harbor Murders.

The basics: Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs is on the island of Oahu with his son in December 1941, enjoying the Hawaiian sun. Two days before the Japanese attack on the harbor, a young Japanese singer, Pearl Harada, is found murdered. She had requested a meeting with a local Naval officer, but was killed before it could take place. Burroughs believes the girl had information about Japanese spies in Hawaii, but was silenced before she could tell what she knew. Just as Burroughs and local detectives start seriously delving into Harada's murder and the possibility of espionage, the Japanese attack. With ships burning in the harbor and bullets raining from the sky, Burroughs and his son must figure out who killed the singer and who helped the Japanese military plan their attack.

There is truth in the plot of this book. Edgar Rice Burroughs was actually on the Island of Oahu during the attack in 1941, and helped patrol the harbor after it was over. He became the oldest war correspondent during World War II after the US entered the war. The author was outspoken about the events, even writing a letter containing his eyewitness account of the attack. He addressed the letter to: Whomever Gives a Damn. Needless to say the man had cast iron balls and the attitude to go with them. But what do you expect of the man who created Tarzan?!

Here is a link to the text of his letter:

I enjoyed The Pearl Harbor Murders. It was a bit slower paced than the first two books, but once the story got going, it was great! The Disaster Mystery series does not make light of the actual historical events, and many actual facts are included in the story. The mystery portion of the plot is fictional -- but the plot was believable and mixed well with actual historical events.

All in all, an exciting and interesting book. The mystery had enough possible suspects and suspense to keep me listening intently through this entire audio book. Dan John Miller narrated. His voice and pace were perfect, making it an enjoyable listening experience.

I have read many books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but I did not know that he was in Hawaii at the time of the Japanese attack. I have a new respect for the man after learning what he did to assist during the aftermath and about his work as a war correspondent.

Burroughs wrote nearly 80 books. Most were in the adventure and science fiction/fantasty genres. His most famous characters are Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.

Max Allan Collins is an award winning author and has written many books about detectives and criminal investigations including several CSI stories and the Nathan Heller series. For more information about the Disaster Mystery series and his other books, check out his website:

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