Rating: 4 stars out of 5
A few months after the birth of his twins, openly gay Honolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka and begins a temporary assignment to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. Kimo and his HPD partner Ray Donne are quickly thrown into an investigation into threatening letters sent to a U.S. Senator. Are these screeds about racial purity related to an escalating series of attacks against mixed-race couples and families on Oahu?
When arson at a day care center on the Windward Coast brings Kimo’s partner, fire investigator Mike Riccardi, into the case, Kimo worries about the future of his and Mike’s newborn twins on an island falling prey to hate and a cult leader bent on death and destruction.
I fell under the spell of Neil S. Plakcy and his Hawaiian detective Kimo Kanapa’aka in the very first book, Mahu, hawaiian for gay. There a very complicated and closeted young Kimo, trying to deal with his sexuality, was outed during a horrific murder case. Its ramifications on his career, family relationships and private life would reverberate through the following stories. Plakcy’s ability to bring not only Kimo to life but his multicultural family history and the vibrant racial mixing pot that is Hawaii to life is amazing. From the variety of languages spoken, the nuances of levels of Hawaiian race in your background, even the language designations for north, south, east and west are different. Yet, here they flow off the tongues of the characters with the ease of native speakers, Very few authors have the ability to use local colloquialisms and dialects to hone their characters personas and locations the way Plakcy does and by the ninth book, its usage is so subtle and well woven into the narrative, I hardly notice any more.
Kimo and Mike have come a long with in their partnership. Now the coparents of twins along with a lesbian couple, Kimo takes on a case that hits at the heart of his family’s safety. Both Mike and Kimo have families from mixed racial background, and their sons parentage is equally so when their mothers backgrounds are included as well. When each man handles a case with similar clues, all leads start to point towards a cult bent on the worship of racial purity.
I loved this book for so many reasons, none of which really had anything to do with the mystery. Kimo’s parents which have figured largely in all the stories are now frail, older figures here, especially Kimo’s dad. Their relationship, always so strong, sees a change in position here that is so realistic and painful. Mike’s parents, once so against the relationship, now move forward into new positive roles. So much is changing within the family structures for them both, including that of their foster son. Here all the relationships strain against their bonds and come back for support once more. Its all so remarkable in its human dynamics and believable interchanges. Sometimes angst-filled, often humorous, it will be so easy for all the readers to relate to the relationships in flux here, whether it be brother and brother, father and son, or new fathers and new babies. This is what made this book for me. Its all about the changes in life that we all go through.
And its even starts at the beginning with Kimo leaving the Honolulu P.D. to join FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force along with his partner. New beginnings even at the job level. But that brings us to the murders and the mystery.
That was my least favorite part of the story. I figured out early on who the murderer was and where the problem was occurring. The author all but had a giant arrow pointing the way. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of scenes where the suspense was high, because that happened. There was danger, and angst enough to go around, just not the usual amount of guessing I expect from this author.
However, Plakcy’s style of writing moves the story along so quickly towards the end that your mind is consumed with the safety of the main characters and the capture of the culprits. And so much more. I want more books. I want to know how Dakota is doing with his new boyfriend, how Kimo’s dad’s doing, and the family in general. They got into my heart, every single one of them. If you give them a chance, they will get into yours too. But why start here? This is a fantastic series. Go to the beginning Mahu and read your way through until you arrive here. With each book it just gets better and better. I highly recommend them all.
Cover art is nice but I sort of miss that primitive art work of the original covers.