[EDIT – There’s now a review up on Booksquawk. Please read.]
Today sees the launch of Heikki Hietala’s fantastic Tulagi Hotel, and we are delighted to have the book’s fantastic trailer for you. You can now also BUY Tulagi Hotel here. And, best of all, Heikki is coming to London this Thursday to celebrate, and will be signing copies at Goldsboro Books, 7 Cecil Court from 7-9pm – that’s just off Charing Cross Road by Leicester Square tube station. Come and meet him, and many of us, there.
World War II has given Jack McGuire the chance to escape the confines of the Midwest and the family farm. An ace U.S. Marine fighter pilot, he risks his life each day with his squadron in the South Pacific theatre. For him, there’s calm and camaraderie up there in the cockpit. But when the war ends, Jack struggles to find his place in civilian society. Turning his back on his home, family and inheritance, he returns to the Solomon Islands. Here he builds a hotel on the same island paradise he flew over in his years of combat. But when Kay Wheeler, the widow of his wartime best friend and wingman, comes to visit the island, Jack’s orderly world is disrupted. He is forced to consider whether there’s room enough for two in his reinvented life.
“Jack! Hey, Jack! Wake up, there’s someone to see you.”
“Ohhhh… go away, Martin. I’m dead.”
The man on the bed didn’t bother to face Martin in the doorway or even open his eyes. Instead, he rolled to his left and curled up. Undeterred, Martin rushed to the bed and shook Jack with vigor, then bounced back to the doorway and swayed hanging on the doorframe, knees bent.
“Jack!” Martin wasn’t about to give up so easy. “I think you want to see who came in today.”
“No one’s coming today. Not that I know of at least. Go away and fix my funeral.” He curled up even tighter and pulled the covers over his head.
Martin let out a disgusted sigh and returned to the task at hand. “Jack – she flew in on the Trans-Oceanic last night, and now she’s here. She stayed at Sir Randolph’s guest house overnight at Tulagi and they brought her here just now. She says she knew Don. She wants to talk to you about Don Wheeler.”
Martin pulled the covers off Jack’s head to reveal an unkempt, unshaven man in his early thirties, hangover incarnate. Martin shook his head. “You should know better, Jack. Never ever drink with the Headmen. Their beer is not of this world. Besides, you need to get up anyway. No time to sleep all day.”
Jack tried to force his eyelids open, but now Martin was standing against the bright morning light flooding the hut from the open doorway. The blacksmiths in Jack’s head accelerated to full speed. The blood rushing between his ears sounded like a mighty furnace bellows, driven on by a feverish pulse.
“Come on, you want to see this lady. She’s not here for a holiday.”
Pushing himself up, Jack sat upright on the bed. With unfocused eyes, he tried to stand but fell back on the mattress instead, hitting his head on the curve of the corrugated iron wall. With a strained effort Jack finally stood up and managed to train his eyes on the porch bathing in the brilliant Solomon Islands sun.
A lady in a light dress with flowers stood there, on the porch. In her hand she held a purse and beside her was a leather Gladstone valise. Pushing Martin’s extended arm away, Jack dragged his feet to the door, painfully aware of the finesse his appearance lacked this morning.
“Jack McGuire?” The lady smiled. “So nice to finally meet you. I’m Kay Wheeler.”
The lady held out her hand. Jack took it and felt her firm grip. He tried to fix the name with someone Don might have mentioned when they flew together way back when, but his brain flashed “No Match”. But then, that morning, even his mother’s name might have pressed him hard.