Death of a Messenger by Robert McCawDeath of a Messenger by Robert McCaw
Narrator: Kaeomakana Tiwanak
Series: Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery #1
Published by Oceanview Publishing on May 10, 2021 (first published November 24, 2014)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Police Procedural
Length: 11 hrs 7 mins
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
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Journey deep into the exotic locales of Hawaii's Big Island to discover its language, culture—and crime

On Hawaii Island, an anonymous 911 caller reports a body at Pohakuloa, the Army's live-fire training area. Hilo Chief Detective Koa Kane, a cop with his own secret criminal past, finds a mutilated corpse—bearing all the hallmarks of ancient ritual sacrifice.

He encounters a host of obstacles as he pursues the murderer—an incompetent local medical examiner, hostility from both haoles (Westerners) and sovereignty advocates, and a myriad of lies. Koa races to discover whether the victim stumbled upon a gang of high-tech archaeological thieves, or learned a secret so shocking it cost him his life and put others in mortal danger.

Will Hilo's most respected detective stop this sadistic fiend—or will the Pohakuloa killer strike again, with even deadlier consequences?

I picked up Death of a Messenger because I needed a book set in Hawaii for one of the reading challenges I’m doing. I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it. It’s a good mystery and I learned a lot about Hawaiian history and culture.

Hawaiian Detective Koa Kane is called to investigate a grisly murder – a mutilated body discovered in a lava tube at an army training area. The victim is difficult to identify and bears disturbing marks indicating an ancient ritual sacrifice. Further investigation uncovers an unknown archaeological site nearby and leads Kane to wonder if the victim had stumbled across a rare historical secret people will kill to protect.

The plot is complicated in a good way. There are several convincing suspects including black market dealers, astronomers, and amateur archeologists, in the case, and enough clues and red herrings to keep the reader, and detective, on their toes. The pace was a bit uneven, but I imagine policework is too.

Koa is a rather typical detective, clever, and tenacious, but he works well with others and rarely rambles off on his own. I could have done without a piece of his backstory, an incident we were reminded of multiple times but didn’t really seem to affect his work or personality. I guess it taught him not to judge crime scenes from appearances, but really shouldn’t any series lead know that? He is likable, as are his friends.

Often when I finish the first in a series, the question for me is whether or not I will read more of the books. I think in this case the answer is yes. I loved the setting and I thought the author did a good job weaving all the subplots together.

About Robert McCaw

Robert B. McCaw grew up in a military family traveling the world. After graduating from Georgetown University, he served as a lieutenant in the US Army before earning his JD degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, he spent a year as a judicial clerk for Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black. He practiced law in Washington, DC and New York City, representing investment banks, lawyers, directors, and other clients in complex civil and criminal cases, including many that generated significant press coverage.

Adding balance to his life, he had the good fortune to visit and fall in love with Hawaii. He studied Hawaiian history, language, and culture becoming intrigued by the richness of the land and people. While still pursuing an active legal practice, he began to write, choosing the mystery genre to share what he had learned about the ancient Polynesians and their Hawaiian descendants. his first novel languished over the years and between vacations, put aside countless times under the constraints of his legal career. When he retired, things were different and he finally dedicated himself to finishing his first novel.

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