Bones of Hilo
March 18, 2021

Book Review

Bones of Hilo

Eric Redman

Off we go to one of those other islands that comprise our lovely 50th state, but in this mystery by Eric Redman the beauty of Hawaii is hidden beneath the murder and mystery of Hilo, Waimea and other locations on “The Big Island.”

What can look appealing at first blush, can hold deep secrets, angry indigenous people, fortune hunters, and a whole lot more. And that is exactly what we get in this fast-paced book that grabs our attention from the very beginning when real estate developer, Ralph Fortunato, is found dead on a signature golf course and resort.

We follow Detective Kawika Wong, who is half-Hawaiian, as he attempts to get to the bottom of this murder, a particularly gruesome one in that Fortunato is found with an ancient Hawaiian spear having impaled him. And despite Wong’s past issues when he was a detective in Seattle, his boss has no qualms in having him try and unravel this crime.

Soon one murder becomes two, and then three, and bodies are piling up and despite quickly realizing that Fortunato is a shady developer now a whole lot of progress is made. But that is where angry indigenous people come in, as local native Hawaiian organizations are incensed that Wong seems to be focusing on one of their members as a prime suspect and we get to see the power of the press as, when Wong is made to appear responsible for these deaths. While nothing can be further from the truth, some strategically worded press releases turn Wong into a target.

Sadly, we see many throughout the book use “civic” organizations to pad their own agenda and how many of these groups are filled with bogus individuals. There are many native Hawaiians who have a dislike for what happened to their kingdom, but on the other hand many are also used by “haoles” to get their way when it comes to island developments.

Wong will eventually travel back to Washington state, where he gets advice from his mother and stepfather, after which he continues to investigate the murky past of Fortunato who had a similar bogus resort in the Methow Valley region of Washington also blow up in his face. And quickly discovers that wherever Fortunato goes, so goes mysterious deaths, and that everyone is happy to find out that he is finally dead.

Bones of Hilo is a compelling book, filled with lots of Hawaiian details and intrigue. The Big Island is a beautiful place, but also a dangerous and deadly location, and one that we can only hope Redman will return to in future books.

Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for this free advance copy in return for an honest review.

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