Reviewed by PizzyGirl
SERIES: Mahu #1
AUTHOR: Neil S. Plakcy
NARRATOR: Joel Leslie
PUBLISHER: MLR Press
LENGTH: 11 hours
RELEASE DATE: August 8, 2017
Kimo Kanapa’aka’s world turns upside down in Mahu. At 32, the hero of Māhū has reached the pinnacle of his profession, detective on the Honolulu Police Department’s homicide squad, based at the Waikīkī station. But a difficult murder case, as well as turmoil in his personal life, is about to threaten everything he has worked for.
A life-threatening drug bust in chapter 1 makes Kimo realize that it’s time to stop lying to himself. He’s drawn to the Rod and Reel Club, a gay bar in Waikīkī, where he has a couple of beers and begins the long process of accepting his attraction to other men. Leaving the club, though, he stumbles onto two men dropping a dead body in an alley, and he launches himself into a nightmare where his private life becomes public news.
Kimo’s pursuit of this case takes him from the seamy underside of Chinatown to the elegance of million-dollar homes in Maunalani Heights, from gay bars where young men stride naked down runways to bloody crime scenes.
I want to start out my specifically telling you that this is NOT A ROMANCE. Please do not read this one with any kind of expectation of love and happy endings. This is a detective mystery plain and simple.
With that being said, this mystery was a good one. There were a few times I rolled my eyes because Kimo was rather dense as a detective and missed some VERY OBVIOUS things, but he was going through a lot so I understood his distraction. I pretty much had things figured out way before Kimo, but it was still very engaging and very interesting so I was never bored or frustrated. This was a good mystery that left me feeling fulfilled.
My favorite thing about this book, though, was the exploration of Kimo’s sexuality within the Hawaiian culture and the police force. His coming out and his reaction to being gay was an experience that made me think. Not only think about Kimo but about my perceptions as well.
There were times I found myself instantly judging Kimo for things he did while trying to discover himself and his sexuality. Some of those cases crossed the line of ethics with suspects but other times I was at fault for judging something simply because of my preconceived notions. I liked that about this book. I liked having to stop and wonder why I reacted as I did and why things felt “wrong” to me. It was a great reading experience.
There was so much about this book that I could go into here but I won’t because honestly I don’t want to. I am not a gay man coming out in a field that is so typically macho. I appreciated this story for what I could, but I think this is the type of story that needs to be read by everyone individually because it will impact you differently based on who you are and how you have grown up. And that is not a bad thing at all. I do recommend everyone pick this one up and read it for yourself.
Unfortunately this was not one of my favorite Joel Leslie narrations. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but his accents just didn’t feel right to me. Like the main character was native Hawaiian yet he had no accent at all but all the characters around him did. And in one case, the story specifically said a character had no accent, yet she had a thick Chinese accent in the narration. And tim’s accent changed every time he appeared in the story. The performance was overshadowed by the inconsistencies I kept focusing on.