Hell-Bent: One Man’s Crusade to Crush the Hawaiian Mob

World-class beaches, fragrant frangipani, swaying palms, and hula girls. Most folks think of Hawaii as a vacation destination. Mob-style executions, drug smuggling, and vicious gang warfare are seldom part of the postcard image. Yet, Hawaii was once home to not only Aloha spirit, but also a ruthless, homegrown mafia underworld. From 1960 to 1980, Hawaiian gangsters grew rich off a robust trade in drugs, gambling, and prostitution that followed in the wake of Hawaii’s tourist boom.
     Thus, by 1980, the year Charles Marsland was elected Honolulu’s top prosecutor, the honeymoon island paradise was also plagued by violence, corruption and organized crime. The zeal that Marsland brought to his crusade against the Hawaiian underworld was relentless, self-destructive, and very personal. Five years earlier, Marsland’s son had been gunned down. His efforts to bring his son’s killers to justice and indeed, eradicate the entire organized criminal element in Hawaii make for an extraordinary tale that culminates with intense courtroom drama.

Prosecutor Charles Marsland

Murder victim Chuckers Marsland

Hitman Ronnie Ching

Praise for Hell-Bent

Ryan delivers his second true-crime tale, this time covering ‘Hawaii’s underworld.’. . .It’s an intriguing tale, to be sure. . . .[T]he book (is) gripping and Marsland’s search for justice takes him through a twisted landscape…

-Kirkus Reviews

Journalist and author Ryan recounts the story of a man on a mission to find justice for his son’s murder and take down the Honolulu crime syndicate believed to be responsible… Ryan’s well-researched account expertly weaves historical fact into an engrossing true crime narrative to present a fascinating piece of Hawaiian history at odds with its idyllic image highlighting the efforts of a truly unsung hero.

-Publishers Weekly

A penetrating look at the darker side of a sunny paradise, the book is sure to be appreciated by those with an interest in true crime or simply those looking for a bit of fast-moving adventurous non-fiction. Ryan, ever a journalist, serves up this juicy pineapple of a book in a tight 250 pages – a good length to be covered in those fleeting moments of quiet enjoyed around the holiday season.

-The Charleston Mercury

Ryan’s book is a page-turner, a well researched and fascinating look at crime in paradise. More than that . . . it a powerful story of the dogged lengths one man will go to on behalf of his murdered son.” 

-The Charleston Post and Courier


Read an excerpt from Hell-Bent in Honolulu Magazine.