Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan

One of the pivotal scenes in my novel, Pigeon-Blood Red, takes place in what used to be a well-known landmark in Honolulu: the historic International Market Place.  Midway through the novel two of the main characters duck into the marketplace while attempting to elude a hit man.  Here is how I described the scene:

“Although it was late, as usual the downtown streets were choked with traffic and the sidewalks packed with shoppers and revelers.  They blended into one of the many groups and walked several blocks in silence, ending up on the Kalakaua side of the entrance to the International Marketplace, a cavernous bazaar filled with shops and eateries from the mundane to the exotic.  One twisting aisle after another overflowed with all manner of clothing, fine linens, jewelry, brac-a-bac, souvenirs, and practically anything else.  They went in.”

“Along the streets they’d checked behind them as inconspicuously as possible and seen no one.  They continued their vigilance inside, while stopping occasionally, pretending to admire the wares.  At the opposite side of the market they exited on Kuhio Avenue.  Compared to Kalakaua it was practically deserted.”

That brief description from memory was based on a trip I took to Honolulu in the mid-90’s to attend a legal conference.  I returned to that city a few days ago and decided to pay a visit to this iconic site.  To my surprise, it was unrecognizable.  It had been completely renovated and converted into an upscale shopping mall filled with high-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Banana Republic, and Abercrombie & Fitch.  Other stores and shops have yet to open, so at least around noon on the week day I was there the mall was not very crowded.  Certainly, it was not teeming with the throngs of people I recalled from my earlier visit.  Needless to say, therefore, it would have provided much less cover than the old marketplace for two people seeking refuge from a killer hot on their trail.

The International Market Place is, of course, an actual place and it is (or was) something of a tourist attraction.  I fear, therefore, that anyone learning about it for the first time through my novel will be in for quite a shock if they visit the current incarnation.  However, a bit of the old marketplace is preserved inside, starting with the ancient banyan tree around which the original structure was built.  It was planted in the mid-1800’s and stands over sixty feet tall.  On the second floor, mounted on railings surrounding the tree, are placards with narration and photos describing the history of the marketplace.

Its predecessor was Waikiki Village, which was created by Donn Beach “with the goal of building a Polynesian-themed village.”  It opened in 1957.  Tahitian entertainers performed under the banyan tree, and drinks were served at Beach’s famed Don the Beachcomber tiki bar while  Rickshaws transported tourists around the marketplace in the evenings.  The banyan tree supported a tree house where Donn Beach actually lived and worked and a small version of it sits in the banyan tree today.

There is one interesting aside to my visit.  Unlike the International Market Place, another Honolulu locale in the novel is entirely a creation of my imagination.  I needed a site for two of the characters to meet and I created a small generic park.  In retrospect, I always wished I had used a real park so that readers could find it if they looked.  On my return visit I discovered such a park.  It’s on Kalakaua street and it’s called Queen Kapiolani Regional Park.  Readers of the novel won’t be sure but now I know they can at least speculate that this is the park I had in mind.  It’s a small point but I hope this makes Pigeon-Blood Red just a little more authentic.

Pigeon-Blood Red is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan.

Duncan says, “It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally.”


For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

Praise for Pigeon-Blood Red

“In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest.” – 4 Stars, Red City Review

Pigeon Blood Red at 238 pages, is not particularly long as books go, but Duncan packs a lot of story into those pages. Readers in search of a tight, well written, good guy versus bad guy, crime/action/adventure will find Pigeon Blood Red by Ed E. Duncan, an engrossing story that will keep them involved to the end. And like me, they will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment.” Mike Siedschlag

“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans…refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” – 5 Stars, Best Thrillers

About Ed Duncan

Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/

Connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


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