Monday, November 9, 2020

Fire and Vengeance - Robert B. McCaw

Summary: Having killed his father’s nemesis and gotten away with it, Hilo, Hawai`i Chief Detective Koa Kane, is not your ordinary cop. Estranged from his younger brother who has been convicted of multiple crimes, he is not from a typical law enforcement family. Yet, Koa’s secret demons fuel his unwavering drive to pursue justice. Never has Koa’s motivation been greater than when he learns that an elementary school was placed atop a volcanic vent, which has now exploded. The subsequent murders of the school’s contractor and architect only add urgency to his search for the truth. As Koa’s investigation heats up, his brother collapses in jail from a previously undiagnosed brain tumor. Using his connections, Koa devises a risky plan to win his brother’s freedom. As Koa gradually unravels the obscure connections between multiple suspects, he uncovers a 40 year-old conspiracy. When he is about to apprehend the perpetrators, his investigation suddenly becomes entwined with his brother’s future, forcing Koa to choose between justice for the victims and his brother’s freedom. (Summary and pic from

My Review: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really like crime novels. They’re a lot of fun. I’m not sure what the psychology is behind all of this love of murder and crime and such, but I can tell from the long list of crime authors let alone the offerings on all streaming services that I’m not the only one. It’s comforting to be a disturbed individual when you’re not the only disturbed individual, right?

This book had an interesting premise. I always enjoy reading about different places, and I consider Hawaii to be an interesting and culturally different place from many other places I’ve read about. Coincidentally enough, I just read Sharks in the Times of Saviors that takes place in Hawaii and has lots of interesting discussion of Hawaiian culture and such, and I'll be reviewing that soon!

To be honest, I would have liked more cultural immersion in this book. I appreciate that the author is not Hawaiian and has talked to other sources in order to get more cultural information, and I would have liked more of that. I know that it is a careful balance between accurately representing a culture from secondhand information and actually being a part of that culture. I think that McCaws’ interest in being authentic and representing Hawaiian culture accurately showed through here, and I appreciated that because it is pretty lame when a culture is represented inaccurately by an outsider, but I would have liked even more cultural information to better add to the feeling of the Hawaiianness of the book and the story, especially as to how it related to the story and the story’s resolution.

I had a somewhat difficult time buying the premise of this story. Maybe I’m just a person who thinks too highly of people in general, which is entirely possible, but I would like to think that a whole bunch of people would not collude together to let an elementary school be built on top of a volcano mouth. I mean, that is pretty stupid and dangerous and seems like a complete recipe for disaster. I also had a similar difficulty in buying the way everything was tied up at the end. I don’t want to give anything away, but I do feel like some pretty drastic things had to line up in order to have the ending it did. I like it when endings feel more organic, even if it makes them messier than I would have liked.

I did like the characters. There were a lot to choose from that had some interesting back stories and a wide cast of interesting peripheral characters gave the book lots of flavor and interest. There were some connections between some of the characters I would have liked to have explored more, and there were a few times I was somewhat confused, but all in all I thought that the story moved along quickly and had strong characterization.

If you’re into crime mysteries, especially those that take place in exotic locations with interesting characters and interesting back stories, you should check this out.

My Rating: 3 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is some language and also a gang rape scene that is not too explicit but definitely discussed.

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