A Hawai'ian Mystery with Kimo Kanapa'aka by Neil S. Plakcy
Review: Neil S. Plakcy's second mystery to feature gay Honolulu police detective Kimo Kanapa'aka, Mahu Surfer, hits all the right notes as a mystery yet misses the mark as an overall novel.
Someone has killed three surfers on the north shore of Oahu (Hawaii) and Kimo, a surfer himself, is sent undercover to determine who is behind the murders and why. Kimo is asked to portray an ex-cop who has left the force because he was "outed" and who has retreated to the north shore to do a bit of surfing and soul searching. He quickly determines the three deaths are related and that there is no shortage of suspects. The motive behind the murders, however, eludes him until his probing puts his own life in danger.
Plakcy has crafted a fine murder mystery that is well thought out, with clues to its solution scattered throughout the story. Kimo conducts an intelligent investigation, and regularly summarizes (for the reader) what he knows and what conclusions he has drawn to that point. Yet in the end, the identity of the killer will likely come as a surprise. That, in and of itself, is sufficient to recommend this book. In this regard, it's really quite well done.
But there are a few minor problems with the rest of the book that are troubling nonetheless. The first third of Mahu Surfer reads like an early draft of a screenplay from the Keanu Reeves surfing mystery movie Point Break. It's not all that credible. And it's hard not to picture Keanu playing the role of Kimo. (In retrospect, that may actually not be a bad thing.) Plakcy also fails to convey a sense of what it's like to surf, or even to visit, the north shore of Oahu. Anyone who has done so, or who has watched the opening credits to Hawaii Five-O, will wonder if the story actually takes place there. And finally there are the sex scenes which are not an integral part of the plot or even contribute in any meaningful way to character development, but can at best be described as gratuitous. At one point Kimo says, "I was going to have to learn to keep my personal life separate from my job. I needed to practice some restraint; I needed to keep my pants zipped for a while. Not just for my job, but for my own sanity." Plakcy should have taken Kimo's advice and applied it to his writing.
Acknowledgment: Breakthrough Promotions provided a copy of Mahu Surfer for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Alyson Publications (Trade Paperback), May 2008
ISBN-13: 9781593500795; ISBN-10: 1593500793
Location(s) referenced in Mahu Surfer: Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
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Mahu Surfer by Neil S. Plakcy — A Hawai'ian Mystery with Kimo Kanapa'aka
Publisher: Alyson Publications
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $14.95