World-class beaches, fragrant frangipani, swaying palms, and hula girls. Most folks think of Hawaii as a vacation destination. Mob-style executions, drug smuggling, and vicious gang warfare are seldom part of the postcard image. Yet, Hawaii was once home to not only Aloha spirit, but also a ruthless, homegrown mafia underworld. From 1960 to 1980, Hawaiian gangsters grew rich off a robust trade in drugs, gambling, and prostitution that followed in the wake of Hawaii's tourist boom. Thus, by 1980-the year Charles Marsland was elected Honolulu's top prosecutor-the honeymoon island paradise was also plagued by violence, corruption and organized crime. The zeal that Marsland brought to his crusade against the Hawaiian underworld was relentless, self-destructive, and very personal. Five years earlier, Marsland's son had been gunned down. His efforts to bring his son's killers to justice-and indeed, eradicate the entire organized criminal element in Hawaii-make for an extraordinary tale that culminates with intense courtroom drama.
Hawaii Five-O meets Wiseguy in author Jason Ryan's vigorously reported chronicle of brazen gangsters, brutal murders, and a father's quest for vengeance-all set against an unlikely backdrop of seductive tropical beauty.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 320
Ryan delivers his second true-crime tale, this time covering 'Hawaii's underworld.'...It's an intriguing tale, to be sure...[T]he book (is) gripping and Marsland's search for justice takes him through a twisted landscape...[T]his will likely appeal ... to Mafia buffs. Kirkus Reviews Journalist and author Ryan recounts the story of a man on a mission to find justice for his son's murder and take down the Honolulu crime syndicate believed to be responsible. The sordid saga begins in 1975 with the shooting death of Chuckers Marsland amid a plague of violence and corruption in Hawaii with gangsters shaking down gambling operations, offing rivals, and partying with Don Ho. Amid those suspected of the murder are Eric Naone, a violent bodyguard, Ronnie Ching, 'thief, pimp, drug dealer, and professional killer,' and Raymond Scanlan, a corrupt ex-cop with a missing service weapon. Enter 'abrasive, aggressive, tough-talking' Charles Marsland, grieving father and civil attorney turned head city prosecutor, who is intent on speaking out about the legal system's 'incompetence, cronyism, [and] outright corruption.' In addition to avenging his son's death, Marsland seeks to prove that local businessman Larry Mehau is the shadowy godfather of the Hawaiian mafia. The book culminates in a trial against the major suspects after a confession by the notoriously deceptive Ching hoping to exchange information on Mehau's criminal activity for a plea bargain. Ryan's well-researched account expertly weaves historical fact into an engrossing true crime narrative to present a fascinating piece of Hawaiian history at odds with its idyllic image highlighting the efforts of a truly unsung hero. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich. Publishers Weekly c Charleston Gazette Ryan, ever a journalist, serves up this juicy pineapple of a book in a tight 250 pages - a good length to be covered in those fleeting moments of a quite enjoyed around the holidays. Charleston Mercury Ryan's book is a page-turner, a well researched and fascinating look at crime in paradise. More than that ... it a powerful story of the dogged lengths one man will go to on behalf of his murdered son. The Post and Courier Praise for author's previous book, Jackpot: High Times, High Seas, and the Sting That Launched the War on Drugs"[M]eticulously documented and lucidly spun... Part New Yorker feature, part Jimmy Buffet song... The result is adventuresome, lavish, informative fun. Try it. You'll like it." -GQ"Over the course of Jackpot's rollicking story, Ryan manages to pack in one amusing tale after another: the day after a shipment, the crew stumbles upon a bale of marijuana accidentally left on the side of the road; they pilot a pot-filled sailboat that is taking on water all the way back from Jamaica; ... they help US forces during the invasion of Grenada, earning one trafficker, Bob 'The Boss' Byers, the nickname 'rocket launcher.' ... Jackpot is a rip-roaring good read." -Charleston City Paper"High times on the high seas: Investigative reporter Ryan recounts the glory days of dope smuggling and their terrible denouement... A well-told tale of true crime that provides a few good arguments for why it should not be a crime at all." -Kirkus Reviews "Ryan has hit the jackpot with this tale of drug smuggling on the high seas... [Jackpot] reads like an international thriller... chock-a-block with hilarious and hair-raising anecdotes of fast times." -New York Journal of Books"[A] thoroughly researched account of Operation Jackpot, the drug investigation that ended the reign of South Carolina's 'gentlemen smugglers,'... Ryan recreates the era with a vivid, sun-drenched intensity." -Publishers Weekly