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by Eric Redman
Crooked Lane, March 2024
272 pages
ISBN: 1639102868

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DEATH IN HILO is the second book in the Kawika Wong series and, in this one, twelve years have passed and rookie detective Kawika Wong is now middle-aged and chief of the homicide division in Honolulu's police department. He's also in line to become the new police chief, but more pressing is a serial killer in Honolulu and a 12-year-old case that threatens to end his career.

On the eve of his release, Michael Cushing, an inmate at Walla Walla in Washington state, tells a reporter that while he hired a hitman to kill two people, he didn't kill Ralph Fortunato, a real estate developer. It's a case that Kawika worked on as a detective on the Big Island, but not always in a by-the-book manner and Kawika never revealed all he knew or suspected. As the reporter keeps digging, the chief of the Hilo police department opens a review of that case.

When a young man who works on the Big Island—on a controversial proposal to put an observatory on the summit of Mauna Key—is found dead in Honolulu, Kawika is pulled into an ever-spiraling case that has links with the old murder.

The story is a police procedural, but it's also a story of relationships: between Kawika and his wife, Elle; Kawika and his former boss and mentor, Major Teruo Tanaka; and even between the press and police. Interesting characters populate this story and they bring depth to this book. If there's one fault it is that the author overly focuses on the Thirty Meter Telescope Project on Mauna Kea. While the controversy about this real-life proposed telescope has been divisive in reality, such a heavy focus in the novel slows down the plot at points.

Despite that, the book picks up pace toward the end, when another murder ramps up the stakes—and not only is Kawika's career at stake, but so is his life.

§ Lourdes Venard is an editor for an education nonprofit and a copy editing instructor with the University of California, San Diego. She lives in Washington State.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, February 2024

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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