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By Deborah Turrell Atkinson
Poisoned Pen Press, 2007 ($24.95)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
When Storm Kayama was shipped off to Oahu after some youthful missteps, she found a friend in Tanner Williams, who had a brilliant mind and the beginning signs of bipolar disorder. They were both misfits; Tanner helped Storm with her academic problems and she accepted him as he was. Now, fifteen years later, Storm is a successful attorney and Tannerís life has fallen apart. His wife Jenny canít take any more of his wild mood swings, and he refuses to take the medication that controls his behavior but stifles his soul. His son Luke has just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and Tanner is concerned about whether Jenny is caring for him properly. He reaches out to Storm for help, and she agrees to go to Molokai to check out the situation.
Her partner, and lover, Ian Hamlin also has business on Molokai, investigating whether there was negligence involved in the disappearance of Brock Liu while on an eco tour. Storm is not thrilled with Ianís preference for this kind of high dollar personal injury suit, preferring to take cases for more altruistic reasons. This is causing some friction between them, but Storm is happy to make the trip because sheíll get to see Uncle Keone and Aunt Maile, the people who took her in and raised her when she badly needed a home. She hopes this trip will make him more comfortable with her viewpoint, and that long walks and horseback rides will relax him. Her hope is dashed when they encounter a body in the woods.
The owners of Hawaii EcoTours, brothers Connor and Shelly Richards, are friends of Tannerís, and Shelly is like an uncle to Luke. Tanner often leads tours for them. He is an expert on the native flora and fauna, and claims to be working on experimental drugs with medicinal value in his isolated cabin in the woods. When Luke witnesses a murder, and suspects the killer know who he is, he takes off first to the Richardsí home. Finding no one to help him, and none of the insulin Shelly had been keeping for him, he sets out on a perilous journey to his fatherís cabin.
Storm begins to discover that the murders are linked to the troubles on the island ten years ago. There were tensions between the ranchers and the locals. Alika Liu, Brock Liuís older brother, was killed, and a teenage girl and her baby disappeared. The crimes of the past have not been forgotten, and innocent people may get hurt in the crossfire.
Storm is a great character, just flawed enough to be interesting, just tough enough to be believable when she gets into trouble, as she so often does, just caring enough to be a good friend to those who love her. Her Hawaii is lush and exotic, beautiful with an undercurrent of danger. This is the third in the series, and I hope there will be many more to come.
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