There are moments in The Kona Shuffle where your eyes scan the words as fast as they can as your jaw hangs open catching flies. Esther and Tommy with the gun. The naked guy strapped to a chair and tortured with cheesy steel guitar music and a sunburn from hell. Gerald who wears plaid shorts in the Kona heat and speaks in a brogue because the father he never met is Scottish. I can’t even mention the whole fertility idol thing without cracking up because I remember those from Woolworth’s tourist souvenir selection as a kid.
Tom Bradley’s The Kona Shuffle is a screwball detective comedy about four identical backpacks that get mixed up during a hard landing at the Kona Airport. Of course none of the bags are carrying the typical tourist maps and sunscreen and all of the owners are highly motivated to get their bags back. As the bags are stolen, swapped, and misdirected, deals are stuck and double-crossed in hilarious situations. It’s up to private investigator Noelani B. Lee to figure it all out and ultimately decide who gets the goods.
There’s just the right balance between locals only inside jokes and a fast-paced action-packed narrative. Like a good plate lunch, there’s a little bit of everything here that satisfies. If you’re heading to Hawaii, it’s a great beach or plane read that guarantees you’ll be checking menus for loco mocos and paying a little more attention to your fanny pack in Waikiki.
Can’t wait for the next Noelani adventure, The Hilo Hustle.