The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe.
Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka'i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui's southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspection reveals something far more sinister than the results of a savage wave gone wrong. Now that Alaka'i is looking at a homicide, he solicits the help of his niece, Detective Kali Māhoe.
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- ISBN-13: 9781496727725
- ISBN-10: 149672772X
- Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
- Publish Date: May 2020
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
- Page Count: 272
Whodunit: June 2020
Remarkable protagonists and surprising settings make this collection of suspenseful stories stand out.
★ The Shooting at Château Rock
Martin Walker’s wildly popular Bruno, Chief of Police series chronicles the adventures of Benoît “Bruno” Courrèges, chief of police of the fictional town of St. Denis in the Périgord region of southwestern France. Bruno loves horseback riding, basset hounds, truffles, fine wines, gourmet cooking, rugby and beautiful women, not necessarily in that order. In The Shooting at Château Rock, the affable but diligent policeman finds himself on the trail of some pretty nasty killers who are possibly connected to the Putin administration in Russia. Two parallel but interconnected real estate deals anchor the plot, one of them centered on a retirement village that is inexplicably bleeding thousands of euros every month, the other involving the palatial home of a former rock star whose son is enamored of a young Russian flautist with more than a passing connection to the aforementioned killers. Those who have read this column for a while know that Martin Walker’s books get reviewed often. This is because: a) they are consistently excellent; b) I really want to know Bruno, to eat at his dinner table with his charming and entertaining guests, to play fetch with his basset hound, Balzac; and c) I really want to be Bruno.
The Fire Thief
When the body of a teenage boy turns up on a lava beach in Maui, the initial assumption is that he had a surfing accident. That assumption is laid to rest after a shark’s tooth is discovered in the boy’s skull. It is quickly determined that the tooth is not there as a result of bad dental hygiene on the part of a sea predator. The boy was bludgeoned to death by an ancient Hawaiian war club, or a modern reproduction thereof, lined with shark’s teeth at the business end. The arrival of Detective Kali Ma¯hoe on the scene foreshadows one of the most compelling meldings of mystery and mythology since Tony Hillerman first put pen to paper in the Leaphorn and Chee series. As sightings of a legendary and malevolent faceless spirit mount, Kali must question her own long-held beliefs while remaining rooted in modern police procedures. Debra Bokur’s page-turning debut novel, The Fire Thief, covers all the bases I need in a mystery: individualistic lead, check; Hercule Poirot-level detection skills, check; plot-driven narrative that does not neglect other stylistic elements, check. It earns bonus points for depicting a lovely palm-ringed island destination, warts and all (high crime rate, the endless enmity of the haves and the have-nots). Even paradise has a seamy underbelly.
Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery
The summer of 1967 was the Summer of Love. If you were straight, it was a year promising unfettered experiences of the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll variety. If you were gay, however, you could be fired or evicted (or worse) if outed. The clubs you visited would routinely get raided. And so it comes to pass that lesbian ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her lover and her job on the very same day. She isn’t going to get any sort of job reference, so after evaluating her highly particular skill set, she opts to open a private investigation agency in Rosalie Knecht’s second Vera Kelly book, Vera Kelly Is Not a Mystery. Most callers assume Vera is the secretary; when they find out she is the lead (and sole) investigator, they hang up. But just as her financial situation is getting dire, she lands a client—a Dominican couple hoping to track down their missing nephew, the scion of a prominent Santo Domingo family. Vera bounces between the Big Apple and the Caribbean in search of answers, always staying one step ahead of the bad guys. And maybe, if she is lucky, she will save the life of a desperately ill child who has, up to now, been a pawn in a deadly political chess game. Knecht’s stylish mystery is impossible to put down and just begging for a third installment.
What You Don’t See
Cass Raines was once one of the few African American women on the Chicago police force, before she hung out her shingle as a private investigator. In Tracy Clark’s latest mystery, What You Don’t See, the take-no-guff PI finds herself serving as bodyguard/babysitter to Vonda Allen, a spoiled and decidedly annoying magazine publisher who has been receiving graphic death threats. When Cass’ assignment partner, Ben Mickerson, is badly slashed by a mystery assailant while accompanying Vonda to a book signing, Cass must delve into the personal history of her client in a frantic endeavor to ferret out a killer before they can strike again. Complicating matters is the fact that Vonda displays no desire whatsoever to help out; it would appear that whatever secrets she is guarding are more important to her than whatever danger she may be in. Subplots abound, as they do in real life, and Clark works them in smoothly, lending interesting, everyday challenges to a narrative that already has no shortage of excitement.