I am truly a sucker for an adventure tale that involves sailing the high seas, bonus points if the protagonist ends up fighting for survival on a desert island. Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins fits the bill for such a seafaring story but with a modern murder mystery twist.
A Brief Summary
Lux is stuck. Working at a fancy resort in Hawaii just isn’t living up to the adventurous and glamorous life she expected to have when she followed her boyfriend to the island with intentions of setting sail on his boat, The Susannah, and beginning a life at sea. When she loses her dead-end job, she and her boyfriend, Nico, are simultaneously presented with an opportunity to finally earn the money to start their adventure. All they have to do is sail two young and mysterious women to the remote and uninhabited Meroe Island.
Meroe island is a short sail from their home port, but it has a creepy history. A past shipwreck on the island resulted in the passengers turning on each other and resorting to cannibalism. Legend says that the island makes people go a little insane, that the island has a mind of its own and is not friendly to its guests. The passengers aboard The Susannah don’t let the lore of the island stop them from embarking on the trip of a lifetime.
Once the gang makes it to Meroe island, they are surprised to see two others already docked and enjoying the sunshine. Lux, Nico, and the girls join them, and the group become fast friends. The next several days on Meroe are a tropical dream as they enjoy the sand, sun, and general revelry that can only be found in paradise.
Then all of a sudden, their blissful bubble is burst by a menacing stranger who arrives on the island. Almost simultaneously with his arrival, the mood amongst the group of friends shifts. Relationships are tested, and trust falls away as the fabled sinister atmosphere of Meroe island takes root. Deception, murder, twists, and turns abound as sunny-side-up relationships dissolve to reveal class and gender tensions among the group. But in the end, it seems as if no one is truly innocent.
I should note that this book is a reimagining of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which also involves a group of people lured to a small island under sinister pretenses.
While the popular Hawaiian snack is not explicitly mentioned in the novel, SPAM is as Lux returns from grocery shopping for supplies before embarking to Meroe island, and Nico asks:
‘How did it go?’ he calls, and I gesture back toward the car.
‘All the SPAM we can eat,” I promise, and his grin widens as he presses a hand to his bare chest.
‘Woman after my own heart.’Reckless Girls, pg. 42 (Chapter 5)
Because SPAM is such a nonperishable stable for trips at sea, and because the book is initially set in Hawaii, Musubi immediately came to mind as a great pairing for Reckless Girls.
Some Background on Musubi
An iconic Hawaiian staple, Musubi originated in Hawaii during World War II. Following Pearl Harbor, the U.S. greatly increased military presence in Hawaii, and SPAM was one of the most vital rations for its near non-existent expiration date. SPAM became overabundant, and it eventually spilled over from soldiers to civilians who inserted it into a popular Japanese snack consisting of rice wrapped in nori called onigiri. Thanks to how well fried SPAM’s flavor paired with onigiri, the snack known as musubi became incredibly popular and remains so today.
Making musubi really is super easy. I researched a bunch of different recipes, but they all consisted of the same steps: 1) pan fry sliced SPAM, 2) add mixture of soy sauce and sugar to glaze, 3) mold rice, 4) top rice with SPAM, 5) wrap in a strip of nori. Easy peasy.
Musubi molds exist to help you form the treat into the perfect shape, but lining your empty SPAM can with plastic wrap works beautifully. Once your can is lined, add in your rice (about 1/2 cup) and press down a slice of your fried SPAM on top firmly. Lift up the wrap, and you have a perfect musubi shape!
- 1 can SPAM
- 2 sheets nori (cut into three strips each)
- 1½ cups sushi rice (prepared; note that 1½ cups refers to the dry measurement of the rice. You will want to prepare your rice first before moving on to the SPAM.)
- 2 tbsps soy sauce
- 2 tbsps brown sugar
- furikake seasoning (optional)
- 1-2 tbsps neutral oil
- Prepare sushi rice.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Separately, mix together brown sugar and soy sauce. Set aside.
- Slice your SPAM into six equal slices and add to pan once oil is hot. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it's nicely browned all over.
- Once SPAM is cooked, add your soy sauce and brown sugar mixture to the pan, coating your SPAM on all sides, and allowing to cook for an additional two minutes.
- Set your SPAM aside. This recipe will use the SPAM cam as the musubi mold. Line your empty SPAM can with plastic wrap.
- Scoop about ½ cup of your sushi rice into the can and top with a slice of SPAM. Press down firmly to get an even and solid shape.
- Pull up on the wrap to lift your SPAM and rice out of the can. You should have a solid oval shaped musubi.
- Wrap nori around the middle of the long side of your musubi. Use water to seal if necessary, and enjoy warm.
Reckless Girls was a fun read for me because I really enjoy this type of not too literary, murder mystery fiction. It really has me wanting to read And Then There Were None now, though the real crime is that I haven’t already.
Also, musubi is so yummy! It’s definitely a fun treat that my whole family enjoyed, and it’s super simple to make. I highly recommend trying your hand at it!
What are you guys reading or eating lately? Let me know! I’m always happy to chat books and food!