Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

For those of you who have read A Simple Murder (you know who you are), but have never been to Hawaii, I’ve put together the below pictorial guide, featuring some of the landmarks in the story.

For those of you who haven’t read the book (you know who you are), here’s what you’re missing.

The Hawaiian island of Oahu, which means “the gathering place.” Most of the story takes place on the Windward Side of the island, in Kailua and Kaneohe (the part that juts out just to the left of “Southeast Oahu”). The Windward Side is, essentially that area on the map at left from Turtle Bay at the top to Southeast Oahu in the lower right corner. The Kaneohe-Kailua area is also home to the Marine Corps Air Station, situated between the two towns on a peninsula with an extinct volcano at one end. The Windward Side is remarkably different from the Leeward Side, the latter being far more commercialized and home to most of the island’s tourist attractions, including Waikiki Beach.

Ft. Hase Beach, also on the Windward side of Oahu, where the story opens. It’s one of several beaches on the Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe. The view here is toward the extinct volcano on the Marine base, looking away from the town of Kailua. This is one of the few beaches on the island that offers little in the way of surf or diving, and it’s a secluded spot easy to overlook from the road going on and off the base.



The Shack (in case you didn’t notice that huge sign), home of the best burgers on the island, located in Kailua. One of Wade Stuart’s favorite hangouts. The house specialty is a massive burger with either Portuguese or “Louisiana hot link” sausage with curly fries that are a must-have. Inside, it’s mostly a sports bar and arcade, but family friendly.



Buzz’s Steakhouse, also in Kailua. Situated right on the beach, and protected by shade and cool breezes, with an awesome lanai for outdoor dining, Buzz’s is a great place to enjoy a quiet meal. Wade and Molly McDonough have supper here upon her arrival in Hawaii.



Speaking of Molly, she arrives at Honolulu International Airport, one of the neatest airports in the world. It’s almost entirely open-air, and the constant trade winds keep the whole place cool and comfortable. Outside, there are dozens of lei stands, so you can grab fresh flowers coming or going (and don’t forget). The bottom image is the Reef Runway, an artificial reef affixed onto the island of Oahu to accommodate large jets. Its position makes for some pretty interesting approaches, especially after hours of flying over open ocean, only to have a strip of asphalt suddenly appear under your plane. It gives you the sense that you’re about to do a belly-flop into the Pacific, right up until you look out the window and see the mountains of Oahu (if you’re on that side of the plane, of course).


Downtown Kailua, where Wade Stuart lives and works. Kailua is adjacent to the Marine base on the Windward Side, part local and part haole, and totally relaxed. It’s commonly referred to, partly in jest (partly not), as Haole Town because of the large number of non-Hawaiians that live there. But it definitely has a small-town feel to it; but then again, it is small.



The Mahi, a sunken Navy cable ship. The ship was sunk years ago off the western side of Oahu to build an artificial reef for marine life, and has become a very popular dive site. It sits in about 100 feet of water. It was sunk with the bow facing away from the the island, but a hurricane blew in and turned the entire ship around so that it now faces the island. Stuart accepts an invitation from Pops Kekona to go for a dive on the vessel.


Kahuku, the very small town up the road from Kaneohe on the Windward Side, nestled into the mountains. The general area where Pops lives and where he and Wade Stuart meet for the first time. Kahuku is very “local,” meaning mostly Hawaiian. And they play some pretty good high school football in Kahuku.



The USS Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class Navy cruiser that pulls into Pearl Harbor for a planned port call after a stormy transit from the Mainland. The skipper is Capt. Thomas Lindsay, USN. The storm prevented the ship from conducting its scheduled exercises and weapons testing. Lindsay decided to forgo the exercises and head to port.



Barber’s Point. The beach here formerly belonged to the Naval Air Station at Barber’s Point and was a great beach for sunbathing and picnics; today it’s a spot for one of the more popular tourist luaus (there are several commercial outfits that put on luaus on Oahu’s Leeward Side). As a result, much of the former base’s land is empty and the beach is far more remote than in the Navy days. It’s also located fairly close to the Honolulu International Airport.


Waikiki Beach, the spot most familiar to tourists. You can’t give a tour of Oahu without a picture of Waikiki, so here it is. The busiest spot on the island (except for maybe Hanauma Bay), and famed for its sun and surf (not the thundering waves of the North Shore, though) and Duke Kahanamoku. Where most tourists spend their entire Hawaiian vacation.



The beach aboard the Marine Corps base in Kaneohe, sometimes referred to as “Officers’ Beach.” It’s flat as a tabletop in the summer, but the winter season brings fairly big waves. It’s one of two surfable beaches on the base and within walking distance from base housing. The view, though, is spectacular all year long. Stuart surfs here regularly, and has an interesting meeting here with the base spokesman.


The aforementioned Pearl Harbor, today the final resting place of the USS Arizona and the current home of the USS Missouri — the two ships that represent the beginning and the end of World War II for the United States and still a major Navy base. It also sits adjacent to Hickam Air Force Base, both of which were attacked in 1941. The slips off the right of the photo are where many ships pull into port.

This concludes the tour. Find out what really happens in A Simple Murder by getting your copy, in paperback or Kindle format, here.


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