Pleasing the Dead Hardcover – Feb 1 2009
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About the Author
Deborah Turrell Atkinson lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, with her husband and two children. A zest for traveling off the beaten path, friends, and her deep interest in the native myths and lore that abound among Hawaii’s rich and varied cultures contribute to her books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Storm's first sights on Maui are the burned remains of a local restaurant, and that harbinger foreshadows a tragic domestic shooting and additional murder as her own room is repeatedly invaded and she is followed by an ominous SUV. In her own life Storm is dealing with the tentative relationship with her boyfriend Ian Hamlin, who left her for a "break" after Storm's previous investigations left them both scarred and wounded.
Atkinson's mysteries always excel at detailing the sights and flavors of Hawaii that only a local could convey. From the diverse and delicious foods such as poi pancakes and saimin with fish cake to the Hawaiian tradition the "coconut wireless" that makes a small island a small neighborhood, all of these descriptions display traits that are uniquely Hawaiian. More than just a regional mystery, Pleasing the Dead explores the complex relationships between fathers and their children and the long-lasting, tragic, legacies left when those relationships are broken. This latest Storm Kayama mystery is the most harrowing yet, with an exciting battle at sea that the reader won't soon forget. A beautiful, scenic, and fascinating thriller that shouldn't be missed.
Author Deborah Turrell Atkinson brings the Hawaiian Islands to vibrant life in this latest entry in the Kayama chronicles. Set on Maui, the book takes us behind the tourist scenes and into the small towns and neighborhoods of the island. We meet grocers and contractors as well as the police officers. A number of Hawaiian foods appear throughout the story as well, whetting the reader's appetite. (I'm definitely ready to try the shave ice with hidden ice cream and azuki bean she describes on page 222.)
Kayama is a strong protagonist. Atkinson gives her a distinct personality that is fresh yet familiar at the same time. She could be your chum from high school or your next door neighbor. Her heart is for people, as evidenced by her mission to bring the little girl, Carmen, a favorite stuffed cat that was left behind when the paramedics brought her to the hospital. At the same time, she fiercely stands up to people who mean harm to those who are important to her.
The large cast of fascinating supporting characters requires attention from the reader. Many of the names are of Japanese origin. The typical reader will be able to keep them straight with a minimum of effort. You'll hate some and love others, but you will be intrigued by the interplay between them in this tense story.
The threads of Atkinson's plot weave through the story like tendrils of some exotic vine. Relationships and past histories converge and digress, but the end result is an entrancing story rich with Hawaiian lore and language. There is some rough language (the reason I gave it 4 rather than 5), but a great read.
If the weather has you wishing for a warm vacation, get "Pleasing the Dead." It's a great escape to Hawaii, a lot less expensive than air fare and no security checkpoints to face.
Although attorney Storm Kayama is the protagonist, the character that lingers in my mind is Ichiru Tagama, a Japanese gentleman of the old school who gets caught in the grip of the Japanese crime organization Yakuza. Tagama's progression from real estate tycoon to doting father to pragmatist facing reality parallels Storm's investigations into a client's proposed dive shop.
Storm has her work cut out for her. Her client, Lara, is a bit flaky. She's about to marry Tagama's son. She's on deadline to get the dive shop up and running. She wants to own the land under it, yet she shows little interest in Storm's questions and legal documents. Taking
tourists out on a dive boat, she's not particular about observing the 3-mile limit from shore. She's not above baiting the water to attract sharks and give the tourists a thrill.
The whole island seems to ignore legalities. Yakuza is into property ownership and child prostitution. Everyone knows it but they turn a blind eye and are afraid to talk about it. Everyone seems to be hiding something.
Two characters who turn out to be Storm's allies are former "water girls" or child prostitutes. Their lives are also at stake when Storm's stubborn pursuit of the island's secrets almost gets her killed.
In my favorite chapter, Lara takes Storm snorkeling. Twenty to 30 feet down, the water is so clear they can see 50 feet in any direction. Storm marvels at the way they are watched by sea creatures that nevertheless go on about their business. Suddenly Lara is knocked galley-west by a four-foot, white-tipped reef shark. She's badly
frightened by the attack from a shark she calls Bruce and considers to be her family totem, or protector. We will meet Bruce the shark again.
PLEASING THE DEAD is an absorbing read on several levels. There's a glossary of Hawaiian words in the back.
Visiting the under construction dive shop, Storm observes a foreman council a drunken Japanese laborer for breaking the rule of not working under the influence as one can be a danger to one's self and others. Soon after receiving the verbal reprimand, the worker Hiroki commits an apparent murder-suicide killing one of his two daughters. Unable to resist Storm investigates what drove the man to kill himself and his child starting with the still powerful ancient "coconut wireless" communication system, in which the gossip ties Hiroki to the Yakuza Japanese mob.
The keys to the exciting Kayama tales (see THE GREEN ROOM, PRIMITIVE SECRETS, and FIRE PRAYER) are the deep look into Native Hawaiian mythology and the hidden from tourists underside of paradise. The story line is fast-paced, starting off as a legal thriller, but as with the previous Stormy stories quickly turns into a dangerous investigative tale. Fans will enjoy tour guide Deborah Turrell Atkinson's exciting Hawaii Paradise adventures.
Then an employee working on the new dive shop shoots his two young daughters and himself. From that point, Storm becomes involved in the various personalities and interrelationships way beyond the simple task if setting up by-laws and establishing insurance criteria. These include the Yakuza, intertwined interests of local businesses, real estate, prostitution and politics. It makes for exciting reading.
As in past novels in the series, the book is filled with broad glimpses of the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, as well as its past history and customs. Fast-paced and smoothly written, the novel is entertaining and a good read, and is recommended.