Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Seventy-five years following the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry, an elderly Nisei hires Ava Rome to find out how his best friend, a Japanese-American Buddhist priest, died in the Tule Lake Internment Camp. In the course of her investigation she uncovers another cold case, the rape and murder of a Japanese-American teenager on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack. Was the same person responsible for both crimes? Ava suspects so. She travels to the Tule Lake site in Northern California where an attack on her life proves that the cold cases are deadly hot. Other people close to the case are murdered on orders from a powerful individual, whose reach stretches from Hawaii to halfway across the continental United States, and who will kill to keep the past secret. Returning to Honolulu, Ava experiences a devastating act of betrayal before solving the murders and revealing a seven decades-long history of evil.

“What happened decades ago that WH Global will kill to cover up? Former Army MP Ava Rome is determined to find out. A non-stop thriller with a strong back story of people caught up in the World War II internment of Americans of Japanese descent in Hawaii.” —Terry Shames, Macavity Award-winning author of the Samuel Craddock mysteries

“Splintered Loyalty is an exhilarating plunge into a dark past. Mark Troy’s heroine, Ava Rome, is tough, talented and tenacious and riveting to watch! Bravo!” —Matt Coyle, author of the Shamus, Anthony and Lefty Award-winning Rick Cahill crime series

“Long one of my favorite short-story writers, Mark Troy proves himself equally deft as a novelist. Splintered Loyalty, the latest in the Ava Rome private eye series, finds Rome digging deep into the past to investigate the death of a Buddhist priest during WWII. The tension slowly builds as Rome uncovers long-hidden secrets that lead to an explosive conclusion. I highly recommend Splintered Loyalty.” —Michael Bracken, Anthony-, Edgar-, and Shamus-Award nominee

Mark Troy recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, SPLINTERED LOYALTY.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
As this is part of a series, the character of the detective took shape first, followed by the character of the victim.

Mark Troy

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Some sense of the injustices suffered by Americans of Japanese ancestry who lost their freedom, their homes, and their livelihoods because of racist fear and propaganda.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?
The fight for social justice is, for me, one of the defining characteristics of the private detective genre. It’s the issue of social justice that makes me want to read books in this genre.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
Getting to the site of the Tule Lake camp, which is in a remote part of Northern California, posed a big challenge. Even though most of the camp is gone now, what remains had a great influence on specific points in the plot. This book also opened up the opportunity to delve deeply into the history of Japanese relocation and internment during WWII and to gain a better understanding of the character of the Japanese character.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
It revolves around the repercussions of a shameful period in American history and exposes some of the injustices of that time.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
The character of Harry Miyazaki, the priest, was based on a real person, whose daughter was a close friend in graduate school. The incident in the prologue is based on her recollection of her father’s arrest at the start of WW II.

Was there anything new you discovered, or surprised you, as you wrote this book?
On December 6, 1941, a Saturday, San Jose State University played the University of Hawai’i in football in Honolulu. The team woke up the next morning to chaos and war. The islands came under martial law and the team was stranded, unable to get back home. All of the police were militarized and tasked with tracking down spies and saboteurs. Normal policing fell to reserve volunteers. Many of the SJSU players volunteered for the reserves until they could find passage back home. For some of them, that was a year or more.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Joe R. Lansdale gave me tremendous encouragement early on. The works of Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais set the standards in plot and dialogue for me to aim for. Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller, and Michael Connelly gave me examples of strong female sleuths to emulate.

Why do you write in first person from a woman’s point of view?
Because I believe writers need to take risks and get out of their comfort zones. I find myself falling into a trap of laziness if I write a character who is like me. When I write from a woman’s point of view, I can’t be lazy.


Mark Troy writes “Hawaiian noir” stories featuring Ava Rome, a tough-minded wahine private eye who walks the mean streets of a paradise tourists seldom see. Mark is a former Peace Corps volunteer (Thailand) and a graduate of the University of Hawaii, now retired from Texas A&M University. He is a marathoner, cyclist, and former skydiver who, when not spilling blood on paper, mixes knock-you-on-your-ass tiki cocktails and strums Hawaiian hulas on a ‘ukulele.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.

Latest posts by ITW (see all)