Jim and Artie are summoned to a house in the woods, unaware that a man with a Gatling gun is watching them from the woods. The home belongs to Admiral Charles Agnow, who is in charge of Naval Intelligence for the Pacific Fleet. The agents knock at the door but get no answer, and discover that it’s unlocked. They go inside and find Agnow and three of his staff sitting at the table. They don’t respond and the agents realize that they’re dead. The drinks are poisoned with prussic acid, and a piece of paper has the name “Myron Kendrick” written on it. There are also several doodles with the letter Y and lightning bolts in them.
The agents hear someone ride up and turn out the lights. When they step outside, the man with the Gatling gun opens fire. They take cover and Jim tries to return fire, only to discover that his gun is jammed. Artie draws their attacker’s fire and Jim gets behind him. They grapple and Jim subdues the killer, who mutters something in Polynesian. Another man in sailor’s clothing rides up, throws a bone mace, and kills the Polynesian, and then rides away.
The next day at the Wanderer, the agents meet with Assistant Secretary of State Levering Mayhew David, who explains the tactical importance of the Sandwich Islands, also known as Hawaii. King Kalakua wants to ally with a world power to maintain his kingdom’s security, and he’s arriving in the U.S. on the Hawaiian Queen in San Francisco in two days’ time. The royal visit is to remain top secret and the agents are charged with making sure that Kalakua’s visit is a pleasant one.
Once Levering leaves, a messenger pigeon arrives with a message for the agents. They go over the doodles and Artie explains that he checked and Myron Kendrick is the sole survivor of the sinking of the Youngstown three weeks ago. Y refers to Youngstown, and the bolt of lightning refer to the fact that the frigate’s armory blew up during a thunderstorm. Jim figures that Agnow had uncovered evidence that the frigate was sabotaged. Artie goes to see Kendrick while Jim meets with a Hawaiian expatriate, Adam Barclay, to ask about the mace and get a translation of the killer’s statements.
Jim arrives at Barclay’s luxurious abode filled with Hawaiian décor. Barclay, half-Chinese/half-English, comes in and welcomes the agent, and explains that while he carries his father’s name, he considers himself Chinese. The expatriate explains that Hawaii is his true home and asks to see the axe. He identifies it as a traditional Hawaiian war mace that was stolen from his collection the previous night. Barclay puts it back on the wall and invites Jim to join him for a Hawaiian dinner in honor of Kalakua. As they talk, Jim notices an Asian woman watching them from the doorway. The agent accepts Barclay’s invitation as the woman slips away.
Artie goes to the hospital to talk to Kendrick, who is in shock since the sinking. The agent talks to Kendrick alone and tries to get him to speak of the incident. When Kendrick doesn’t respond, Artie orders him to report. The seaman says that he saw a fireball with a long tail approaching the ship. Before Kendrick can finish, a doctor barges in and orders Artie out. As the agent goes, he notices a gun in the “doctor”’s bag and a band around his right wrist. The phony doctor manages to knock him out when Artie’s back is turned.
After the party, Barclay serves drinks to Jim. Jim repeats the Polynesian’s words and Barclay says that it refers to a deadly blossom growing where the ocean meets the mountain. The woman from earlier, Barclay’s secretary Haruko Ishuda, comes in to inform her employer that she has secured the premises and that there is a gentleman waiting to see Barclay about a special shipment. Barclay interrupts her and notes that she is efficient but unresponsive, and wonders if he’s the only one who repels her. Ishuda remains silent and Barclay goes to see his guest, leaving her alone with Jim. He notes that she’s Japanese and Ishuda says that he should leave. When Jim wonders why, Ishuda warns him that if he doesn’t, Artie will find himself short a partner when he has to protect Kalakua. Jim wants to hear more and Ishuda agrees to meet him later.
Jim makes his way through the grounds and a gate opens for him and closes behind him. When he realizes that four men are waiting to ambush him, Jim tries to get through the gate without success and then fights back. One of the men cuts his right hand with a knife. Three of them escape and Barclay arrives to shoot the remaining down. The expatriate suggests that they leave before the men return with reinforcement and Jim goes with him. Once they leave, the “dead” man gets up and goes.
Back in the house, Ishuda offers to check his wound while Barclay sends his houseboy to recover the body. As she tends to the wound, Ishuda says that there are some that would be glad to hear that Jim escaped unscathed except for a scratch. The houseboy reports that the body has disappeared, and Jim asks how Barclay knew about Kalakua’s arrival. Barclay explains that the he and Kalakua are close and that the king wrote to inform him of his visit. Jim admits that Barclay’s information is right... officially. Barclay assumes that the plans have been changed unofficially and expresses his disappointment that he can’t greet Kalakua in person. He asks Jim for the confidential information and the agent declines. Barclay offers Jim a drink but Ishuda “accidentally” spills it. As Barclay goes to make another drink, Ishuda secretly signals Jim to avoid it. Jim says that he has to go but Barclay insists that they participate in a Hawaiian custom and share a drink from a single goblet. Barclay and Ishuda drink first, but Barclay slips a drug into the goblet as he hands it to Jim. The agent drinks it and starts to go, but collapses at the door as Barclay laughs in triumph.
Artie wakes up and the doctor informs him that Kendrick is dead. Artie discovers that he’s holding the killer’s wristband, which has a stevedore permit for Pier 18. He tells the doctor to bring the police up to speed when they arrive and departs.
Jim wakes up and finds himself tied to a table with a bell fastened above his head. Barclay has tied Ishuda to a chair and then activates a blade pendulum that lowers slowly from the ceiling. Ishuda answers Barclay’s earlier query if she is repelled by him, saying that she is. Barclay demands to know when Kalakua will arrive, and Jim tells Barclay that he already knows. The expatriate doesn’t believe him and tells the agent to bump the bell with his head. When Jim tries it out, the mace-wielder from Agnow’s house, Palea, comes in. Barclay admits that Palea works for him and has all along, and departs on business. Palea takes the battle mace from the wall and leaves, waiting for Jim to signal him when he’s ready to talk. Jim and Ishuda watch as the blade descends.
Artie goes to the docks and spots several men assembling at a warehouse. They unload a heavy crate from a boat, a crate marked “art objects,” and take it into the warehouse. Artie joins them and takes the crate into the warehouse, placing it with several others. He stays behind and hides, and then confirms the crates are consigned to Barclay. The agent opens them up and discovers that they contain brightly-colored rockets. When the stevedores come back, looking for an extra man, Artie hides in a crate. The stevedores take out Artie’s crate to make their delivery.
The blade drops ever closer and Ishuda explains that she’s a secret agent with the Japanese government. She explains that Barclay hates the Caucasian world and owns much of the Hawaiian Islands, and has learned that Kalakua has accepted an alliance with the U.S. Barclay plans to eliminate the king, and Ishuda’s superiors don’t want the resulting chaos. Jim turns over and tells Ishuda to guide him. Thanks to her assistance, Jim is able to cut himself loose and then free Ishuda. Jim then triggers the bell but Palea enters from a different door and disarms him. The two men fight and Jim knocks Palea back onto the table where the blade finishes him off. Ishuda agrees to work with Jim and explains that Barclay has been going to an unknown location. When he returns, his boots are smeared with red clay, and Ishuda has confirmed there are three places where the clay can be found, and one site, Land’s End, overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge. She insists on going with Jim to Land’s End and Jim accepts her offer.
Jim and Ishuda arrive at Land’s End the next morning and start searching the area. Ishuda steps into a tripwire, setting off a spear trap. Jim pulls her to safety and they continue to the shore. Ishuda realize that they’ve found the spot indicated by the Polynesian’s statement about the mountain meeting the sea. They look for the deadly blossom, and a false wall opens to reveal Barclay and his men. He orders them brought while his men prepare to launch the missiles.
Inside the base, Barclay proclaims himself the savior of Hawaii. He explains that will save Hawaii from the corruption and progress of the world powers, and Ishuda points out that Kalakua’s alliance would also threaten his dominance of the nation’s trade. He then thanks them for the information concerning Kalakua’s arrival, having concluded that Jim tracked him down so quickly because Kalakua would be arriving that day on the only ship arriving from Hawaii. Barclay then explains that he had a Chinese scientist design the rockets for him, and that he tested them on the Youngstown. The thunderclaps of the storm covered the explosion. The Hawaiian Queen comes into view and Barclay prepares to launch his missiles.
In an adjoining storage room, Artie emerges from the crate and knocks out a guard. He dons the guard’s costume and sneaks out as Barclay boasts of how he can target the incoming ship and destroy it. The ship comes within range and Barclay directs his men in aiming the missiles. At a signal from Artie, Jim attacks Barclay’s thugs. The two agents take out most of the men and Jim redirects one missile up into the air. Another missile is knocked off the rack and the fuse ignites from some spilled rocks. When Barclay tries to shoot the agents, Jim knocks him out and makes a hasty escape with Ishuda and Artie. The missile detonates inside of the base, while the other missile misses the Hawaiian Queen by only a few dozen yards.
Later, Jim prepares to receive Kalakua at the Wanderer. Artie has a previous appointment at the opera and asks Jim to make his excuses because a relative is sick. However, as Artie glances back and sees Kalakua come in through the back entrance. The king introduces Jim to his attractive nieces, cousins, daughters, and female friends. Artie has second thoughts and comes back in, saying that his Great Aunt Maude made a fantastic recovery.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 9, 2015