Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Mark A. Henry
The Honolulu Situation

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

From the streets of Taboor City to the Molokai Fracture Zone, trouble finds Jefir Zaqq like a hook. When a ten-dollar street fight leaves him the target of a vengeful warlord, Jefir accepts the help of a mysterious stranger who helps him escape to America, where everything has a price. On the run in Honolulu, Jefir throws in with the salty crew of the fishing boat Monkey Fist and tries to survive the whirring gears of capitalism, corporate security, home furnishings, secrets and lies in the human-sized space between what lies over the horizon and the life left behind. If you like the way a pony tail looks coming out the back of a ball cap, ice cream trucks, karaoke, sports gambling, Fleetwood Mac, clear liquor and the Code of the Sea and if you’ve ever wondered what the world looks like from atop the three-legged stool of intuition, confidence and rhythm, you can buy this book.
This second caper from Henry, following up Lacking Evidence to the Contrary, again blends comedy, suspense, and many unforeseen complications in a globe-crossing, sea-faring story of warlords, desperate escape, and starting a new life, all kicked off by a single $10 American bill. In a market in the nation of Zazaristan, introduced in Henry’s earlier novel, protagonist Jefir Zaqq accepts the cash in exchange for a melon, and soon is fleeing gunmen denouncing him as “infidel lover.” It all gets worse when Jefir accidentally kills a local warlord. Soon, Jefir is seeking asylum for himself and his brother, Rahim. Fleeing to Honolulu, Jefir begins working on a fishing boat under the brash Captain Natasha Hale and her crew. When Jefir discovers a mysterious metallic object in the nets, he’s torn between selling the potentially valuable score to pay off his debts, or telling his captain.

Henry again balances tension with laughs as Jefir adjusts to life on the run as Jeff Zachary, “a moniker so solidly American it was simultaneously a mutton-chopped president and a ten-year-old proto-hipster.” Meanwhile, a mysterious figure escaped from one of the containers, and Natasha, who respects Jeff’s hustle, interrogates the crew of the Monkey Fist to see who’s keeping secrets while out at sea. The characters are distinct and memorable throughout, with Natasha—soon Tasha—a favorite as she takes command of her team and struggles with leadership.

Henry writes with a strong voice, tinged with the comic, and a love for both the odd detail—be ready to learn about fictional junk TV, the superstitions of smugglers, and Jeff’s amusingly nonplussed discovery of Nirvana at karaoke—but not at the cost of narrative momentum. At times, the funny business and in-world curiosities (like the omnipresent tech company Wangle) can cut against the tension, and characters who appear early on are missed during their long absences. But readers who relish both high personal stakes and lighthearted storytelling will find much to enjoy.

Takeaway: Funny, sea-faring thriller caper of a man chased by warlords.

Comparable Titles: Charles Salzberg’s Man on the Run, Jana Deleon.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A