Dye's novel sends Hawaiian on Irish romp
By David Shapiro
Special to The Advertiser
"Humble Honest Men" by Bob Dye; Watermark Publishing; 260 pages; $15.95
Bob Dye has always told a good story, so I was excited when I heard he was marking the octogenarian phase of his life by publishing his first novel.
Dye, well-known locally as a political adviser and historian as well as a writer, doesn't disappoint with "Humble Honest Men," a comic tale of Hawaiian land developer Kapala Patrick Dolan's journey to Ireland to help the town of Kinsale turn the sunken Lusitania into a tourist attraction like the Arizona Memorial.
It's also a chance for Dolan to reconnect with his Irish mother who deserted him, explore the haole side of his heritage and politic for the U.S. ambassadorship to Ireland — a perfect backdrop for parochial scheming, international intrigue, religious war, culture clash and marital mayhem.
Dye is always worth reading for his sharp sense of humor, and it's on full display here, ranging from dry wit to drop-the-pants slapstick.
He's sopped up the Irish culture in the dozen years he's maintained homes both there and in Hawai'i. His eye for detail and ear for language make for evocative writing that has the ring of truth.
Dye deploys an unusually large cast for a 260-page novel and it takes awhile to get them all on stage, but once he does his characters are memorable and entertaining.
The plot gets increasingly convoluted as the story unfolds. Dye keeps it mostly under control with some twists that make you laugh out loud and others that make you gag.
Some characters were obviously drawn to resemble real people such as former mayor Frank Fasi, for whom Dye once worked, and current Mayor Mufi Hannemann, but this is a tease; there are no choice insider revelations.
The history and mystery surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania by the Germans in 1915 get full treatment amid the comedy.
Dolan offers the thoughtful insight that the event's real significance was that it was the first time in modern warfare that civilians rather than combatants were targeted, providing a glimpse into a future that would include Hiroshima and 9/11.
"Humble Honest Men" is a worthy first novel that brings a sense of joy to both the writing and the reading.
David Shapiro, a veteran Hawai'i journalist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read his blog at http://volcanicash.honadvblogs.com.