Author: Neil Plakcy
Publisher: MLR Press
Cover Artist: MLR
Rating: 5.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 08/09/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery
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.
Is this the end for Kimo Kanapa’aka? I don’t mean death, I mean the end of the series. Kimo and his husband Mike are settling into their role as foster parents of a gay teenager and co-parents of twins with their lesbian friends Sandra and Cathy. Kimo and his partner Ray, newly assigned to the FBI bureau on the outskirts of Honolulu, are caught up in an increasingly disturbing series of incidents seemingly based on extreme prejudice against racial mixing—something that strikes home for a man whose own bloodline is complicated and multi-racial. At the same time he faces the increasing frailty of his father, and the realization that his family now includes Mike’s family, and all the people he’s known while growing up in his fascinating, beautiful, deceptive island state. The more people in your ohana, the more people there are to worry about.
The detective story is gripping, and slightly terrifying in this book. The intersection of personal and public ratchets up the anxiety, and the background of family, emotional dealings provides a rich spice to the story-telling. Kimo is not a hard-boiled detective; he’s a gay man with a great heart. He loves generously now—something that wasn’t true in the beginning of the series. He has become a man in full.
The “Mahu” series by Neil Plakcy has been one of my all-time favorite reads. I vividly recall the first book, “Mahu,” in which Kimo, a Honolulu homicide detective, is forced out of the closet at the age of 32. It was then that we began to meet his complex, loving family and learn about the Hawai’I that none of us really knows. The real Hawai’i.
The Mahu series is not one of romance, nor entirely of detective/mystery stores, although obviously those are crucial elements. Plakcy’s prose is not poetic, but realistic. The simple, journalistic style used to present Kimo’s thoughts, through which all the stories are seen, is as clear and clean as the character’s own fictional mind. Throughout these low-key, emotionally controlled and tautly written novels, we have watched Kimo mature from a scared closet-case into an out and proud gay cop, a role- model and a community hero. We have watched his relationship with firefighter Mike Ricciardi evolve into something strong and nurtured. We have witnessed Kimo deal with a wide assortment of nasty crimes set in what most of us believe to be paradise. We have felt Kimo’s deep love for his homeland (yes, a state, but once a kingdom). And we have gotten to know the Kanapa’aka clan in its widest embrace—the Hawai’ian notion of “ohana.”
Kimo and Mike and their parents and friends and siblings and co-workers have become our friends. With each new book I looked forward to meeting new friends and revisiting those I’d met before. I have gotten to know their quirks, their emotional tangles, and their shared love and support for each other. If this be the last book, I’ll accept it. But I’ll miss this motley tribe. They will always feel real to me; and that is the gift that Plakcy has given us with his writing.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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