Faithful readers will know, when I recommend crime fiction, it's the good stuff. Dark Paradise by Lono Waiwaiole (Dennis McMillan, $35) is one of the best of the season. I've been a fan of Lono's since the Wiley series, that were set in Portland, OR. The ending of Wiley's Refrain says "you got to get back to the islands brah". Lono took that to heart and this fast-paced novel is the result of his moving to the big island just as a major meth ring was busted. This dark view of vacation paradise won't be welcomed by the tourist board, but fans of crime noir should rejoice.
Mexican distributors from California have decided to take over the meth trade from the established Japanese, and this has brought the attention of the FBI.
We meet Geronimo Souza, dedicated cop, unfaithful husband and over eager gambler. He knows and is related to many of the local drug dealers. Geronimo wants to minimize collateral damage he knows will come to pass.
Nanali has had to navigate dangerous waters all her life. When her mother was killed by her father, Dominic Rosario, she became the woman of the house at 13. Nanali watches the events and players and believes she is strong enough to step up and take her father's place. Buddy Kai and Sonnyboy Akaka want to keep their share of the action.
Chapters switch between the viewpoints of the characters giving different shifting angles as the battle and retaliations stack up. The Big Island isn't that big where everyone has known each other since grade school.
Lono has a fine ear for the local pidgen and uses it effectively throughout the novel. He has been a high school basketball coach during his teaching years and depicts the teenage scene well here. Well-drawn characters make this a satisfying read, with an ending as sad as the Hawaiian Hymn that closes the book.
Dark Paradise is available from Jackson Street Books and fine indie bookstores everywhere. This beautifully produced volume is a joy to hold.