Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mahu Fire By Neil S. Plakcy

Reviewed by Alan Chin

Kimo Kanapa’aka is a detective working a murder investigation and a series of arsons targeting GLBT owned businesses on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. He is thrust into the center of the investigation after he and his family attend a fundraiser for gay marriage proponents that is firebombed. Kimo is the perfect candidate to lead the bombing investigation because he is gay and has the support of the gay community, not to mention his personal motives: whoever bombed the fundraiser put his family at risk, and you don’t screw with a Hawaiian’s family, especially when he carries a loaded gun…
The deeper into the investigation Kimo crawls, the more the evidence seems to connect the bombings with the other murder and arson crimes. Could someone be targeting the whole GLBT community, and if so, what could they hope to gain? Or is Kimo simply grasping at straws because there is so little evidence to go by? When he teams up with a hunky fireman to investigate the fire bombings, he finds much more than he bargained for.

This topical story couldn’t have come out at a better time in. When the whole GLBT community is taking to the streets over gay marriage, this story pits equal marriage rights at the core of this plot.
As for a mystery, the plot is a bit too simplistic, readers know who done it very early in the story, but this story is much more than a mystery. It is a rather convincing romance, where both lovers bring issues and frustrations to the table and have to work through them. The story is a glimpse into a sometimes funny, sometimes sexy, sometimes sad struggle of two gay men trying to forge a relationship while caught in a deadly game with murders that show no mercy.
Watching Kimo juggle his career responsibility, his family obligations, and his sexual needs felt very real. Although I’m not a fan of detective stories, I found this read rather interesting because I could identify with Kimo’s struggle to blend his sexuality into his professional and family life. It was the main character’s love story and his relationship to his family, rather than the plot, that kept me turning pages.
If you like a well written detective story, and the idea of a dark skinned, hunky, Hawaiian surfer snapping the cuffs on you ups your heart rate, then by all means, this will be an enjoyable read.

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