Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Fire Prayer by Deborah Turrell Atkinson

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Fire Prayer by Deborah Turrell Atkinson. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Fire Prayer by Deborah Turrell Atkinson

Fire Prayer by
A Storm Kayama Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-402-3 (1590584023)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-402-6 (9781590584026)
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Storm Kayama's old high school friend, Tanner Williams, wants a favor. He's asked her to come to Moloka'i to make sure his ex-wife is taking good care of his adolescent son, a newly diagnosed diabetic. In the meantime, Storm's law partner and lover, Ian Hamlin, is investigating the possibility that a Moloka'i kayaking company's negligence played a part in the disappearance of Brock Liu, the son of an O'ahu shipping magnate. It looks like a great excuse for Storm and Hamlin to get away from Honolulu for the weekend.

But Storm soon finds that Tanner has bigger problems than he let on, including his bitter wife Jenny Williams, a history of mental illness, and ties to a local protest group linked to an unsolved ten-year-old homicide. A few hours after Storm's visit to Jenny's home, twelve-year-old Luke Williams finds his mother dead on their living room floor. Luke calls the police, then he disappears.

Storm believes Luke may have seen his mother's killer and is in grave danger from both the murderer and his fluctuating blood glucose levels. Her chase after Luke-and answers-leads through the dense rainforests, pristine beaches, and untamed wilds of Moloka'i. Are Brock Liu's disappearance and Jenny Williams' death linked to the old homicide?

Review: Deborah Turrell Atkinson's third mystery featuring Storm Kayama has the Honolulu lawyer honoring a favor and becoming involved with a murder that may be related to a 10-year-old fire that resulted in an unsolved homicide.

Much of the story takes place in a small town on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. The people there, mostly native Hawaiians, want to retain the character of their town: unpaved streets, no traffic lights, and no large condominiums. They have their traditions, their lore and history, which supports their beliefs. One of the strengths of Fire Prayer is in Atkinson's vivid descriptions of the island and its people. This beautifully written mystery isn't just set in Hawaii; Hawaii is an integral part of the mystery.

Storm and her partner Ian Hamlin travel to Molokai for different reasons: Ian to locate the missing son of a shipping executive, Storm to check up on Luke, a 12-year-old boy and the son of a high school friend who's now living with his ex-wife Jenny on the island. Soon after arriving, Storm and Ian ride horses along the beach and into the forests but they are forced to turn back after an accident dislocates Ian's shoulder. Upon their return, they find Jenny has been murdered, her son Luke finding the body. Luke himself soon disappears, apparently in hiding from his mother's killer. The police soon find another murder victim, the missing man Ian was hired to locate. Are these murders related? And if so, do they have anything to do with an unsolved murder from 10 years ago?

Though the primary plot in Fire Prayer is quite intriguing and the disparate pieces of the mystery puzzle all come together, it's a little disappointing that the subplot involving Luke wasn't expanded a bit more. Luke is a very appealing character that the reader greatly cares about yet in the end his story seems incomplete. But it is a minor disappointment; this is a fine mystery and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Fire Prayer and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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