Title: Fire and Vengeance (Koa Kane Hawaiian Mystery #3)
Author: Robert McCaw
Publication Date: September 1st, 2020 (though I believe the Kindle version was available May 26th!)
Source: Publisher (Oceanview Publishing)
Content/Trigger warnings: Suicide, gun violence, animal death
One Sentence Synopsis
Chief Detective Koa Kane finds himself embroiled in a fight for justice after a volcanic vent destroys an elementary school, killing multiple children and teachers.
This quote is from an uncorrected copy and may change in the final version
“[Koa] sensed a seething rage bubbling just below the surface underlining the community’s shared loss. People came to honor the dead, but Koa felt a powerful groundswell of outrage rising like a rogue wave directed at the officials who’d let this disaster happen.”
I want to thank the publisher, Oceanview Publishing, for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I’m sure you all have noticed that I am, first and foremost, a fantasy reader. But my second love has to be mystery/thrillers! There’s something about trying to figure out the twists and turns as I read through the book is one of my favorite things. I’m also a fan of atmospheric books that make you feel like you’re actually in the setting. So, when I was approached about an intense mystery set in Hawaii, you know I jumped all over it!
Fire and Vengeance follows our main character, Chief Detective Koa Kane, after a terrible disaster befalls an elementary school near his home in Hilo, Hawaii. A volcanic vent that was hidden beneath the school explodes, killing multiple children and teachers and devastating the community. As Koa investigates the disaster, he discovers that the people who were involved in building the school had to have known about the vent and built there anyway. Now, he is on a mission to find justice for the families and he doesn’t care who he has to take down to get it.
This was such a fast-paced, thrilling book! Seriously, I jumped in, curious about the premise and how it might lend itself to the kind of heart-pounding intrigue I tend to love. Not only did it deliver, but I found it incredibly hard to put this book down once I got into it. The controversy! The political intrigue! It all rolled together into a suspenseful novel that keeps you on your toes and makes you want more as soon as you turn the last page. Thankfully, this is the third book in a series, which I believe can be read as standalone books, so I can go back and read the first two.
I’m not one that usually goes for books that follow a detective’s prospective, but this one definitely made me second guess that preference! Koa Kane was just such a fascinating protagonist. He had so many different levels and watching his mind work as I tried to figure things out myself was a ton of fun! I found myself cheering him along as he ran into roadblocks or made a new discovery. Y’all know how much I need to connect to characters to truly enjoy a book and the author made it incredibly easy!
Remember how I said I like atmospheric books? Well, Robert McCaw definitely has a way of making you feel like you’ve been dropped into a story! I’ve never been to Hawaii, but the descriptions were so lush that I could picture myself crossing the lava fields right alongside Detective Kane. I think that was another factor that made this such a compelling read. Also, now I really want to go to Hawaii. I mean, I did before because I have an uncle that lives there, but now it’s a need!
I will say that the side story in this novel fell a little flat for me. It felt jarring jumping to the story of Koa’s brother, a felon who collapse in jail while waiting to testify and is diagnosed with a brain tumor. I’m not saying that I didn’t find that storyline interesting. I loved the way it explored familial relationships and it added yet another interesting layer to Koa’s character. I just felt like it didn’t flow well with the main storyline. It also felt less fleshed-out. Honestly, I probably would read a separate book that just focused on the story of Koa and his erstwhile brother! Still, it was interesting and I can see why it was included in the book. It just threw me off as I was reading because I was completely focused on the main mystery.
Final thoughts: This is a gritty, fast-paced mystery that will keep you guessing! The characters and plot are well-developed, though I was a bit thrown off by the subplot. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and can’t wait to read more about Chief Detective Koa Kane!