A MelanieM Review: Palm Trees and Paparazzi (Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #3) by J.C. Long

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Gabe Maxfield remembers Manuel Delgado all too well—since investigating him nearly got him killed. He’d be very happy never to see him again, but that’s not in the cards for him. When the mother of a missing socialite seeks out Paradise Investigations to find out what happened to her daughter, Gabe and best friend Grace Park are going to be thrown right back into Delgado’s world. Personal lives begin to interfere, as well, and soon they’ve got more on their plate than they can handle.

A missing woman.

Delgado’s son.

A romantically awkward Grace.

Gabe’s parents.

It’s just another week for Gabe Maxfield.

Ok, I’m going to admit that this series and this author have me flummoxed.  There is so much to admire about the writing and the characterizations and the settings that I want to give this story a much higher rating.  And I keep waffling about it, I really do!

See,  JC Long gets so much right here.  Til it sort of doesn’t.

First let’s talk about the setting.  That would be Hawaii where Gabe is a transplant from the mainland.  Long gets the feel of being a “native born” Hawaiian just right.  From the poke, the clothes, the  “language” that goes beyond colloquialisms into a shared culture spoken among those born to the islands itself, you feel like Long knows Hawaii and its people.

After the setting and lush grounding of Hawaii, you have the many characters of this series.  And the start of my wobbling point.  I can see them so clearly.  Long’s ability to define a personality, give them life, and then push them along a narrative works.  Whether you like that character or not, it works.  Long does a great job with all elements of society, law abiding, criminal, native, and haoli. So far so good.

Even the plot of the missing fiance was entertaining.

So where do I find that the story (and potentially series) wobbles?  Well, that would be in believing that Gave and his very annoying partner Clare are actually detectives.   I  kept waiting to find any sort of genuine investigation here (that’s left to another IT person). Anything that would make me believe that any actual “detecting” was being done.  Nope.  From what went down, I don’t believe these two could find pet rocks unless someone threw them at them. They stumble into everything and I don’t think we are meant to look at it like that.  Gabe gets followed by two men.  Does he try to find out who they are?  No.  When he gets pictures , actual  photos of the distinctive men tailing him, try to match up faces to names of the thugs? Again no.  He makes assumptions.  Does he even ask, Maka, his cop boyfriend? Or even tell him they’ve tailed him home? Nope.  Maka, when he does eventually see the thugs, identifies them immediately. Smh!  These two almost make Clouseau look brilliant. Why they keep solving cases I haven’t a clue.

This is not supposed to be a comedy of errors but serious detective work but Gabe and Clare come off at two people who not only should not be Private Detectives but give that group a bad name because they are so inadequate at what they do.  Impulsive, check.  Half cocked.  Uh huh. Running into dangerous situations. Check and check.

So do you see my quandary here?  Believable characters who are absolutely terrible at their jobs but I don’t think JC Long meant to write them that way.  Does Long believe they are doing great work?  Does he believe he’s writing terrific investigative procedures?  Or is this all tongue in cheek?  I really don’t know.  But I get the feeling it’s meant to be serious.

Then there’s their treatment of their receptionist.  Gabe hires a older woman, not because she’s competent, but because she’s sure to make Grace crazy with the way she acts and dresses.  Then when there are constant “emotional” fireworks between Clare and the feisty and totally marvelous Mrs. Neidermeyer, he doesn’t back up either one of them.  All the while acknowledging that maybe he made a less than wise decision.  Ya think? She dresses inappropriately, pole dances and dates and has way more life than many of the other characters in the series.  Long has give her depth and vitality.  Yet none of the characters in the story treat her as anything other than a joke or a burden to deal with.  How odd is that?

So yes, how do I rate this story?  Go high for great settings, believable characters and then what?  You can’t ignore character abuse, lack of professionalism by the PIs or sheer bumbling that occurred that was supposed to fill in as detective work.

For me, I’m still pondering what to do while knowing I’ll grab the next story in the series when it arrives.  Honestly, I love Maka and effervescent Mrs N!

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  Great cover, vibrant and pulls your eye right to the book. Love it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Published July 1st 2019 by NineStar Press
Edition Language English

Series Gabe Maxfield Mysteries #3

Gabe Maxfield Mysteries Series

Mai Tais and Murder

Tiki Torches and Treasure

Hula Dancers and Hauntings

Palm Trees and Paparazzi

By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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