My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked this up probably free from an author giveaway and I don’t usually drop into a mystery series on book 9. While mysteries are stand alone stories (which is why I like them) the character relationships can be hard to get into that deep into a series (not to mention many of them start to peter out once you reach double digits). However, I needed a Hawaiian setting for a reading challenge so I said why not? I have to say I truly enjoyed it and while it was a 3.5 read for me I rounded up because I enjoyed almost everything but had a few quibbles with the end.
Lei is a detective and the novel flip flops between her and her new husband Stevens who has been downsized from his small police station to a job of training recruits at a larger one. Did I have issues picking up everything with their relationship since it’s book 9? Yes and no. It’s pretty clear that a) they are in love b) they have at least two different recurring villains after them and/or on trial outside of the main mystery (which is not one of my favorite tropes) and c) they must have a complicated relationship because they are relatively newly marriage and building a bunker-like home after the bad guys burned down their last one (hurting their dog) and that Lei lost her baby three months ago (stress causing a miscarriage) but Stevens has an infant son, Kiet, from his prior marriage (his wife was murdered) so to me that means they were likely cheating on that wife but I think there’s more to it than that but I’ll have to swing back to figure out what.
As for the mystery, Makoa, a pro surfer drowns while surfing and it turns out it isn’t an accident after someone ‘dropped in’ on his wave. His girlfriend, Shayla and her friend, Pippa and a few others give a vague description of the person on the other surf board. Lei and her partner, Pono, have to sift through professional jealousies, ‘my island is better than your island’ territory scrimishes and non-traditional romantic relationships, not to mention scads of money to be had. In the middle of all this Stevens and his brother, Jared are faced with the sudden appearance of their alcoholic mother bringing up old pain and feelings of betrayal between the brothers, made worse when she disappears into the homeless community.
Overall, I really liked it. Lei’s character is well drawn and the pain of her miscarriage palpable (part of me thought ‘wow, this is brought up literally every chapter’ then on the other hand that is probably the reality of such a loss. I felt like there was a good amount of Hawaiian culture in this (then thought, ‘how would I know how accurate it is? I’ve not been there and I’ve read exactly one book on Hawaiian religious beliefs but it felt real and the author was born and raised there so I’ll buy it).
My quibble? Without spoiling it, I thought the ending was rushed and the confession way too easy. I mean there is literally no forensic evidence so there is every reason for the killer to keep his/her mouth shut. Instead it gets blurted out pretty easily. That aside, I enjoyed this and already picked up two more in the series.
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