Off the Grid is a murder
mystery/police procedural/international thriller set on the big island of Hawai’i.
The story starts with “bang” when a woman’s car is crushed
by a dump truck. As the police and firemen close in, there is a massive
explosion, which turns out to be a bomb. Chief Detective Koa Kãne leaves the
scene to investigate a body found in the volcano Pele’s lava flow. The two
victims are a man and woman who have been living off the grid on the island for
twenty years with little interaction with other people. Who are they, who
murdered them, and why?
Koa meticulously tracks the complicated answers, with his
instincts helping to point him in the right direction. His chief, CIA, MIA, and
island politics all try to block and interfere with his investigation. He
continues to uncover secrets about the two victims, the military, the CIA, the
Chinese, and the locals.
Koa Kãne has secrets of his own that he shares with no one,
not even his girlfriend. The author paints a picture of Hawaii and its people
that is fascinating. You can feel the heat and smell the sulfur of the volcano,
sense the lush rainforest, connect with the variety of people who inhabit the
island. All of McCaw’s characters are interesting.
A great read by a talented author. Thanks to Oceanview
Publishing for sending an advanced reader’s copy of this book.
Nick Fourcade and wife Annie Broussard, detectives with a
sheriff’s department in Louisiana, have two major cases to solve–the rape of a
young autistic girl who doesn’t speak and therefore can’t identify her
attacker, and the murder of a seven-year-old boy in bed in his home.
The plot is good with many suspects for the murder and
twists, turns, and surprises throughout the book. But the characters (the
author jumps through numerous POVs) are all warped and living twisted lives. Characters
are evil, mean, power hungry, psychologically twisted, or cops so set on
finding the perpetrator that they browbeat the victims. Hero Nick is always
angry at everyone except his wife and son. None of the characters appear to
There doesn’t seem to be a premise to the story, but maybe a theme of child abuse, spousal abuse, bullying, and the effects on the abused.
I’ve read other novels by Tami Hoag, and this one doesn’t
compare favorably. The book kept me reading to the end, because of a good plot.
Certainly not because of the characters.
The Current is a
strange story written in a strange style, and it leaves unanswered questions at
the end. It’s closer to real life where everything doesn’t get neatly tied up. There
is mystery here, but not your typical “whodunit” mystery, maybe a literary
I enjoyed the story, but it took a little while to
understand the flow. At times Johnston writes stream
of consciousness, sometimes he uses second person POV, head-hopping from
one character to another, and he skips back and forth between timelines. But he
digs deep into the psyches of his characters—love, hate, grief, curiosity, need-to-know,
vengeance—and tells all that is going on around them—sights, smells, heat and
cold, sounds, skin sensations.
I enjoyed the book but only gave it four stars. It grabbed
my attention, my heart, and my mind. But the author could have made it a little
easier to follow without losing the grip of the story.
I have not read any of the previous books in this series, which
may be a disadvantage in reading Kingdom
of the Blind, but it reads well as a stand-alone.
The cozy comfort of the small town of Three Pines stands in
stark contrast to the back streets of Montreal. Some of the gatherings of Gamache’s
family or friends in the village, discussing the murder or just babbling about
life, at times seemed confusing or unnecessary, possibly due to my
unfamiliarity with the characters. But these gatherings were comfortable,
friendly, and humorous. The story is filled with family connections (both
relational and families of friends or coworkers), some full of love and
understanding and some underlined with distrust.
One unusual thing about Penny’s writing is her use of
omniscient point of view. You might even call it “head-hopping.” She often jumps
POV from one character to another and back. I found it distracting at times,
but overall, she did a reasonable job of making it feel seamless.
The setting in Canadian winter made me feel the chill and
the crunch of the snow underfoot. The plot was interesting. Occasionally I was
ahead of the story and guessed what would happen, other times I was surprised.
I may go back in time and read other novels in Ms. Penny’s Gamache