Mahu Vice: A Hawaiian Mystery
By Neil S. Plakcy
Why this book? The cover art and subtitle caught my eye. The guy on the surfboard was the hook – I love to watch surfing and envy anyone with balance good enough to do it well. There was a big competition going on the North Shore when I visited Hawaii a few years back, and it was amazing to watch people who knew what they were doing. Anyway, that was the draw.
Sex and violence collide under the tropical sun.
Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka went into a tailspin after the break up of his hot heavy affair with fire investigator Mike Riccardi. Now that Kimo’s beginning to recover, he’s forced to work with Mike again on an arson homicide at a shopping center built by Kimo’s father. The investigation takes them into dangerous territory, with love, sex and death at stake.
What did I think? On the whole, this was a pretty good book. I enjoyed the mystery, the step-by-step procedures of a detective, and Kimo and his partner’s realization that different cases were linking up, and the resolution. The glimpse into the daily life of Oahu residents, away from the touristy things, was very interesting – makes me want to go back and not be a typical tourist. Also, I liked the racial diversity of the cast: Kimo is part Japanese, part haole, and a native-born Hawaiian; his circle of friends and family includes native Hawaiians, ethnically Chinese and Portugese, and haoles.
Probably, I’d’ve been a little better off if I’d read earlier books in this series first. The mystery stood on its own, but Kimo’s wobbliness and recovery from his break up and then make up with Mike Riccardi probably would have worked better for me if I’d read their backstory first. Narratively, Kimo shares what happened in flashbacks of a sort, and readers learn in dribs and drabs why and how they parted company, and how self-destructive Kimo was after the break up. Frankly, since readers only get Kimo’s POV, it’s hard to find Mike sympathetic. Yes, he’s sympathetic in a larger sense, that he’s closeted and struggling with who he is, but in terms of relationship material, I was screaming in my head at Kimo to back away. If I’d read their history, I might’ve felt more positive about how their relationship will go in the future.
Anything else? This was an impulse purchase, a paper book. I’d like to read the other books of the series, but none of them are available as e-books, although there is an anthology of “fill-in” stories that is. Eh. Shame.
Keep or pass on? Keep for the time being, I guess.