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The Fire Thief

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The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe. Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka'i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui's southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspect The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe. Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka'i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui's southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspection reveals something far more sinister than the results of a savage wave gone wrong. Now that Alaka'i is looking at a homicide, he solicits the help of his niece, Detective Kali Māhoe. The granddaughter of one of Hawaii's most respected spiritual leaders, and on the transcendent path to becoming a kahu herself, Kali sees evidence of a strange ritual murder. The suspicion is reinforced by a rash of sightings of a noppera-bō--a faceless and malicious spirit many believe to be more than superstition. When a grisly sacrifice is left on the doorstep of a local, and another body washes ashore, Kali fears that the deadly secret ceremonies on Maui are just beginning. To uncover a motive and find the killer, Kali leans on her skills at logic and detection. But she must also draw on her own personal history with the uncanny legends of the islands. Now, as the skies above Maui grow darker, and as she balances reason and superstition, Kali can only wonder: Who'll be the next to die? And who--or what--is she even on the trail of?


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The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe. Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka'i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui's southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspect The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe. Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka'i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui's southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspection reveals something far more sinister than the results of a savage wave gone wrong. Now that Alaka'i is looking at a homicide, he solicits the help of his niece, Detective Kali Māhoe. The granddaughter of one of Hawaii's most respected spiritual leaders, and on the transcendent path to becoming a kahu herself, Kali sees evidence of a strange ritual murder. The suspicion is reinforced by a rash of sightings of a noppera-bō--a faceless and malicious spirit many believe to be more than superstition. When a grisly sacrifice is left on the doorstep of a local, and another body washes ashore, Kali fears that the deadly secret ceremonies on Maui are just beginning. To uncover a motive and find the killer, Kali leans on her skills at logic and detection. But she must also draw on her own personal history with the uncanny legends of the islands. Now, as the skies above Maui grow darker, and as she balances reason and superstition, Kali can only wonder: Who'll be the next to die? And who--or what--is she even on the trail of?

30 review for The Fire Thief

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda Strong

    4.5 STARS Kali Mahoe is the niece of the Police Captain and the grand-daughter of one of Hawaii's most respected spiritual leader. Now that her grandmother has passed, she has become the new kahu .. rooted in legends and healing. And she is also a Detective with local law enforcement. When the Police Captain finds the body of a young surfer boy floating on Maui's shore. At first thought, this was an accidental drowning ... except there's no water in his lungs, he has a huge gash in his head, and i 4.5 STARS Kali Mahoe is the niece of the Police Captain and the grand-daughter of one of Hawaii's most respected spiritual leader. Now that her grandmother has passed, she has become the new kahu .. rooted in legends and healing. And she is also a Detective with local law enforcement. When the Police Captain finds the body of a young surfer boy floating on Maui's shore. At first thought, this was an accidental drowning ... except there's no water in his lungs, he has a huge gash in his head, and inside that gash is a shark's tooth. And that's not the only body that washes ashore. To uncover a motive and find the killer, Kali leans on her skills at logic and detection. She finds she must balance superstition and reason, logic and detection. Kali can only wonder: Who’ll be the next to die? And who—or what—is she even on the trail of? This is the first in what seems to be an exciting new series featuring an unusual detective in Hawaii. As a true Hawaiian, she has an entertaining background. I loved how stories of old, legends, superstitions are blended into this mystery. The author has done a great job in describing the beautiful scenery of the islands. The mystery has twists and turns that revolve around secondary residents ....most who are quirky and a few with secrets. When another crime takes place, Kali manages to investigate both crimes as they begin to emerge as one. I look forward to following Kali into her next adventure. Many thanks to the author / Kensington Books / Netgalley for the digital copy of this mystery. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur is the first book in the police procedural Dark Paradise Mystery series. While this mystery series has character development that carries over from book to book for those wanting to follow the entire series the cases involved are solved within so they could be read as a standalone if choosing to do so. When the police captain, Walter Alaka’i, finds the body of a young teenage surfer he firsts suspects that the death is a surfing accident. However it begins to become The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur is the first book in the police procedural Dark Paradise Mystery series. While this mystery series has character development that carries over from book to book for those wanting to follow the entire series the cases involved are solved within so they could be read as a standalone if choosing to do so. When the police captain, Walter Alaka’i, finds the body of a young teenage surfer he firsts suspects that the death is a surfing accident. However it begins to become clear that this death was no accident at all so Walter gives a call to his niece, Detective Kali Māhoe so she can begin to work the case. While Kali is a detective in Maui she is also is also a kahu which is a spiritual leader in her Hawaiian community so her methods can be a bit out of the ordinary but Kali is always determined to close her cases and find her killer. I have to admit the first draw to this series was the fact it was set in Hawaii and if I can I love to pick up books set around the world as I have a love virtual travel and enjoying a setting as much as a story. This new series of course gives a look at a darker side to the islands but it did bring the setting to life so I was very glad of that. The main character in this one is certainly a character that stands out on her own and it was interesting getting to know her and follow along as she investigated. While this first book of the series landed at three and a half stars for me I feel like I was left wanting to know more and return for the next book. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Under the wonderful atmosphere of Maui's setting, a Detective discovers the body of a young man in an apparent accidental drowning. Even Native Hawaiians can have surfing accidents as the Hawaiian Gods are fickle. Except, it becomes almost immediately, this is a strange accident or possibly much worse. But who in the world would murder a smart college-bound young man? There is nothing that shows a reason. Except the Hawaiian Gods appear to be angry. There are ghostly spirits lurking and Hawaiian Under the wonderful atmosphere of Maui's setting, a Detective discovers the body of a young man in an apparent accidental drowning. Even Native Hawaiians can have surfing accidents as the Hawaiian Gods are fickle. Except, it becomes almost immediately, this is a strange accident or possibly much worse. But who in the world would murder a smart college-bound young man? There is nothing that shows a reason. Except the Hawaiian Gods appear to be angry. There are ghostly spirits lurking and Hawaiian tales that seem to in progress. Enter, Detective Kali - not only is she a Native Hawaiian Detective, and college educated with an cultural anthropology degree, but a trained or spiritual guide just as her Grandma was before her. She tries to make sense of the supernatural aspects of the case while navigating a convention police investigation intermixed with other cases the police have to investigate. The reader gets a wonderful sense of Native Maui as well as the touristy trappings intermixed with historical bits, mythology, lore and wonderful beachy atmosphere. Goodreads Giveaway I agree with the Reviewer who felt the latter of the book wrapped up to quickly and unrealistically. But that is the only criticism. Perfect novel for anyone completing the USA Mystery Challenge

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I listened to this on audiobook. The narrator was average. Her voice for male characters was laughably bad. This was a solid book. I enjoyed the Hawaiian setting, culture, and folklore that is the major component of the novel. It’s something different for a change so I appreciated it. The mystery isn’t all that exciting, it takes a backseat to character development and all things Hawaiian. That’s the major appeal of the novel. The author did their homework to make it seem as authentic as possibl I listened to this on audiobook. The narrator was average. Her voice for male characters was laughably bad. This was a solid book. I enjoyed the Hawaiian setting, culture, and folklore that is the major component of the novel. It’s something different for a change so I appreciated it. The mystery isn’t all that exciting, it takes a backseat to character development and all things Hawaiian. That’s the major appeal of the novel. The author did their homework to make it seem as authentic as possible and the characters were not bad. I did hate the character of Jack though, as he was just another ignorant American. You’d think a professor who travels the world studying volcanoes would be more I don’t know...worldly lol. I’m hoping the series improves the mystery aspect of the plot as these novels have the potential to simply become a novelty.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The cover says this will be on sale in late May of 2020. I received it in late July or early August--don't exactly recall since I was finishing another book at the time. So it's not exactly Advanced. Then again, with the pandemic messing with release schedules and mail delivery, who knows if/when it's available in stores … if they're even open. If it's not currently available, it probably will be soon. This is billed as “A Da Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. The cover says this will be on sale in late May of 2020. I received it in late July or early August--don't exactly recall since I was finishing another book at the time. So it's not exactly Advanced. Then again, with the pandemic messing with release schedules and mail delivery, who knows if/when it's available in stores … if they're even open. If it's not currently available, it probably will be soon. This is billed as “A Dark Paradise Mystery” and the “... First Thriller Featuring Maui Detective Kali Māhoe.” Hopefully it's the first of many, because Kali is a fine protagonist. I would definitely be up for reading more of her adventures. The death of a local surfer and some missing solar panels are what initially catch the attention of Kali and her Uncle Walter, both detectives for the Maui Police Department. The few witnesses describe some sort of faceless ghost … It's a decent enough mystery, but the real point of the book is to introduce us to the characters and the setting. In addition to being a detective, Kali is also a kahu, a spiritual leader for her community, a role that's traditionally passed down from grandparent to grandchild. Seems, to my untrained eye, to be a shaman of sorts. In this book, it mostly serves as a way to slip traditional Hawaiian lore into the story, giving it more depth and flavor. Kali is currently single, living with her dog, Hilo, in the house originally owned by her grandmother. She's still mourning the death of her fiancé, gunned down in the line of duty. We are introduced to at least a couple of potential romantic interests, and I’m sure we'll be seeing more of them in future volumes. The setting seems exotic to me, living in Michigan as I do, though I'm sure it's routine for those who live there. I did appreciate how Debra Bokur takes the trouble to differentiate between actual Hawaii and the portions of it that tourists usually visit. It helped the setting come alive for me. The Fire Thief is a promising beginning to what I hope becomes a successful series. Recommended!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    3.5 stars I enjoyed the first book in what I hope to be an ongoing series. Kali Mahoe is not only a detective with the Maui police but studying to be a kahu, a spiritual leader. The Hawaiian heritage and history really shines and is quite fascinating. I loved reading the myths and legends. The mystery started with the discovery of a teen-age surfer. At first thought to be a surfing accident, a head gash with a shark's tooth embedded in it led to the conclusion it was murder. Walter Alaka'i is ca 3.5 stars I enjoyed the first book in what I hope to be an ongoing series. Kali Mahoe is not only a detective with the Maui police but studying to be a kahu, a spiritual leader. The Hawaiian heritage and history really shines and is quite fascinating. I loved reading the myths and legends. The mystery started with the discovery of a teen-age surfer. At first thought to be a surfing accident, a head gash with a shark's tooth embedded in it led to the conclusion it was murder. Walter Alaka'i is called to investigate and he brings in his niece, Kali. Also, there is a rash of solar power panels being stolen. An elderly woman is murdered during one theft. Are the two crimes connected? I thought the murder was almost an after thought to the rich story of Hawaiian lore. I wish it had been integrated more and actually gave the reader a chance to solve it. Still it was a wonderful beginning to an intriguing new series.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annarella

    An engrossing and entertaining story with a great MC and a fascinating plot. I loved the well thought characters, the plot that flows, the lore and history of Hawaii. The mystery was solid and kept me guessing. It was an intriguing read and I can't wait to read other stories in this series. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine. An engrossing and entertaining story with a great MC and a fascinating plot. I loved the well thought characters, the plot that flows, the lore and history of Hawaii. The mystery was solid and kept me guessing. It was an intriguing read and I can't wait to read other stories in this series. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Maskus

    The Fire Thief displays Hawaiian culture and interlaces Hawaiian language within the story. Debra Bokur artfully introduces Hawaiian phrases into the story. Detective Kali Mahoe, a Hawaiian spiritual leader, is a tattooed warrior. She aids the Police Captain, Walter Alaka’e in investigating crimes on the island and in determining what type of crime has been committed. The story begins with a death of a young surfer, and the stealing of solar panels on the island. Picturesque Hawaii is not Eden. The Fire Thief displays Hawaiian culture and interlaces Hawaiian language within the story. Debra Bokur artfully introduces Hawaiian phrases into the story. Detective Kali Mahoe, a Hawaiian spiritual leader, is a tattooed warrior. She aids the Police Captain, Walter Alaka’e in investigating crimes on the island and in determining what type of crime has been committed. The story begins with a death of a young surfer, and the stealing of solar panels on the island. Picturesque Hawaii is not Eden. Debra Bokur shows the drug problem, poverty on the island, and the influx of foreigners. The Hawaiian names are difficult to remember and I wish that Bokur had listed all the characters. The scenery and vegetation impel the reader to visit Hawaii.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anjana

    This book is a cross between a police procedural and a cozy mystery. It is supposed to be at least; however, it works better as an immersive experience of Hawaiian culture. It has a dual person narrative which could have been tapered to a single person if the focus was only on the mystery, but that is where this book differs. One of the narrations, the smaller part, is done by Walter. He is an older member of the community as well as law enforcement. It's through his eyes that we see the changes This book is a cross between a police procedural and a cozy mystery. It is supposed to be at least; however, it works better as an immersive experience of Hawaiian culture. It has a dual person narrative which could have been tapered to a single person if the focus was only on the mystery, but that is where this book differs. One of the narrations, the smaller part, is done by Walter. He is an older member of the community as well as law enforcement. It's through his eyes that we see the changes on the islands, the hierarchy and the interactional differences by people of a younger, more hip type (like his second in command). He provides context and introduces us to the case, but the story is all about his niece, Kali. Kali is a contradiction that depicts the new age in Hawaii. She is part of the old as well as the new. With this distinction, she can show us a lot about the culture, the practices and the undercurrents in the people. It is more about her finding her footing in her roles. The mystery itself I will not go into because multiple parts may or may not come together towards the end. I liked visiting a whole new place and will come back for the next book. There is a lot of promise, but my rating reflects more about the lack of investment I had in the plot of the mystery. When the end was revealed, I did not feel anything for it. I was more interested in Kali's personal life and the possibilities for the next installment. I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishes but the review is entirely based only on my own reading experience.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Thank you, Kensington Books and NetGalley for this arc. I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. A young man was found dead that everyone thinks was an accident until detective Kali Māhoe was summoned by her uncle and came upon a conclusion of this being like sinister killing. As she began to investigate further, she will have to deal with her history and the many legends the islands have before more killings happen. This book shows many Hawaii history that I haven’t heard of, so I was excited about that. I a Thank you, Kensington Books and NetGalley for this arc. I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. A young man was found dead that everyone thinks was an accident until detective Kali Māhoe was summoned by her uncle and came upon a conclusion of this being like sinister killing. As she began to investigate further, she will have to deal with her history and the many legends the islands have before more killings happen. This book shows many Hawaii history that I haven’t heard of, so I was excited about that. I am fascinated by tons of references used and even the whole lore. I like Kali! I hope to see more of Kali’s adventure in this series. The story is captivating, and I enjoyed reading it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven J

    It was just OK. Very light reading. Not my cup of tea so to speak.

  12. 4 out of 5

    BookTrib.com

    Could there be evidence of a ritual murder? Mahoe knows what a nightmare that could be. She holds a degree in cultural anthropology and prides herself on her deductive skills, but she is also the granddaughter of one of Hawaii’s most respected spiritual leaders, and on the path to becoming a kahu — a healer — herself. She knows how strong the old beliefs are — and how they can complicate a case. Read our full review here: https://booktrib.com/2020/04/probing-... Could there be evidence of a ritual murder? Mahoe knows what a nightmare that could be. She holds a degree in cultural anthropology and prides herself on her deductive skills, but she is also the granddaughter of one of Hawaii’s most respected spiritual leaders, and on the path to becoming a kahu — a healer — herself. She knows how strong the old beliefs are — and how they can complicate a case. Read our full review here: https://booktrib.com/2020/04/probing-...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    3.5 The mystery is secondary to the place setting, culture and lore of Hawaii. I enjoyed it for those aspects. I liked the main characters and will read the next book in the series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Haley

    Fun little mystery set in Hawaii. It seemed like a stretch to connect the murder and the thefts at first but it eventually got there. I liked all the history and the characters and can’t wait to read more.

  15. 5 out of 5

    DiAnne

    I felt like this book was an okay read not a real page-turner. There were a few things I found to be a little bit lacking(her relationship) and one particular occurrence that I would have totally written differently (cat). I think the author does show promise for future novels to be much better. I might have considered putting a small glossary at the back of the book with correct pronunciation for some of the names and terminology with brief description.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anne, Unfinished Woman

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. SPOILER ALERT Rich with the culture and spiritual heritage of Hawaii this first of the series with Detective Kali Mahoe, set on the island of Maui, is fascinating and interesting. It is also realistic in the clash of the laid back style of the original Hawaiians and the newly planted and greedy industrial magnates and the tourists who crowd the islands, causing crime and traffic snarls. Kali is a native Hawaiian who is also a "kaku" a spiritual leader for her people. She is just beginning her pra SPOILER ALERT Rich with the culture and spiritual heritage of Hawaii this first of the series with Detective Kali Mahoe, set on the island of Maui, is fascinating and interesting. It is also realistic in the clash of the laid back style of the original Hawaiians and the newly planted and greedy industrial magnates and the tourists who crowd the islands, causing crime and traffic snarls. Kali is a native Hawaiian who is also a "kaku" a spiritual leader for her people. She is just beginning her practice, and is unsure of her skills. She has a tattoo on her upper arm that is significant of her heritage. She is the niece of Capt Walter Alaka'i, of the Maui Police. In addition to being a member of the Maui Police, she has a degree in cultural anthropology, which puts her a position of specialist/expert of the cultural and spiritual traditions of Hawaii. They are also assisted by Officer David Hara. Kali was the fiance of Mike Shirai, a cop who was killed in the raid of a meth gang. She blames herself in part for his death, thinking she should have been able to protect him. Kali also has a companion in her dog Hilo, a half wolf hound, half Great Dane...huge and loveable. She lives in the partially renovated home she inherited from her grandmother, Pualani Pali, a scientist and spiritual leader. The story begins with the discovery of the body of a high school boy, Kekipi Smith, who was granted a full college scholarship and loved surfing beyond all else. In his head is embedded a shark's tooth and a piece of very old wood. It seems that he may have been hit with an Hawaiian artifact war club. As Kali begins to research the source of such artifacts, she is also looking into the theft of numerous solar panels, a couple from her neighbors. When the thefts are being committed a couple of the homeowners see a ghost...a figure that has not face and is gray in color. In one of the thefts an elderly woman was struck down and eventually dies. Kali immediate neighbors, Birta and Elvar Elinsdottir, from Iceland, are brother and sister. He is an artist who forges knives and swords and other beautiful pieces for movies and collectors. Kali is attracted to the hunky man who is elusive and quiet. He is also temporarily a suspect as he hunts for very old wood and other articles from which to make items, including war clubs. She also meets a PhD Jack Bader, a researcher of volcanos, while she is at a conference for alternative energy sources. The host of the conference is Green World America. She shows him the islands and the places and things he would not have been able to access while there. He may show up in future installments as he is applying for an appointment is Hawaii. While interviewing the owners and manufacturers of solar panels for the furious building going on in the islands, and moving between the islands, she meets Harold Uru, whose receptionist is the daughter, Vanessa of another builder, Billy Shane. He was sleazy in his interview with her, and has a number of developments large and small being built. The police are also looking into the involvement of Poluna Husuka, a well-known pickpocket on the islands, who is also a member of the luau shows. He is also known to deal in artifacts. When they investigate his property they find evidence that he may be involved in the solar panel thefts. He is in the meantime delivering panels, and when done he is killed, because he had been filmed fighting. The murder is witnessed by Makena Shirai. She is the sister of Mike, and lives in the open all over the island, a druggie, a thief and a prostitute who Kali tries to help in remembrance of Mike. When she tries get money from the police for the information, and they refuse, then to blackmail Billy Shane to keep quiet, he and his psychopathic daughter Vanessa take her on their boat intending to kill her. Kali gets wind of Makena's behavior and that the skipper of the boat from which Poluna's body had been thrown, they go after the boat, in a raging storm. Kali has to jump from the Coastguard boat to the other and to get the daughter who appears from below in the ghost costume with the war club that killed Kekipi Smith. Billy Shane is shot and killed by Makena, when the boat shifts in the storm and she gets ahold of his gun. During this climax when she reveals that she owes Mike the action she must take to save Makena, she is told that Mike died thinking he was protecting her, and that he had known from the beginning that the meth gang had a load of guns. Thus some of the guilt that Kali had been carrying is relieved. Vanessa Shane is a nasty woman who demonstrates the racial bias that is a part of the Polynesian/Hawaiian experience. She and her father are set on taking as much as they can from the natives, and establishing a compound on Kauai. This mystery was full of eccentric characters and Hawaiian stories and myths. The development of Kali was well done, presenting a flawed yet intriguing woman, who takes her heritage very seriously. I only found the picture of Vanessa Shane a bit excessive, as she was described as one who tortured animals and other kids as a child, and was looking forward to committing untold torture on Makena. I look forward to the next installment. Though never having visited Hawaii, I love visiting in this novel, as my ex-husband was Hawaiian Chinese, and definitely fit the image of a native.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Listened to audiobook - actual rating 2.75/5 🌟 this book was very underwhelming. I was hoping for some great police procedural but it fell short. If you are looking for a lot of Hawaiian culture and a sprinkling of a mystery this is the book for you. Nothing wrong with that but not the book I was hoping to read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Miller

    Is there a next? Loved the narrator. Great job!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received a free advance copy of "The Fire Thief" from Goodreads in 2020. Unfortunately, the arrival of my copy was delayed by about 6 months due to COVID. Thank you to Goodreads, the publisher and the author for a copy! All opinions in this review are solely my own. I was absolutely stoked for the release of this book. Hawaiian culture has always piqued my curiosity, and a strong female protagonist that mixes that culture with her professional detective work ticked off all of my personal inter I received a free advance copy of "The Fire Thief" from Goodreads in 2020. Unfortunately, the arrival of my copy was delayed by about 6 months due to COVID. Thank you to Goodreads, the publisher and the author for a copy! All opinions in this review are solely my own. I was absolutely stoked for the release of this book. Hawaiian culture has always piqued my curiosity, and a strong female protagonist that mixes that culture with her professional detective work ticked off all of my personal interests. 11/10 to character building and development of Kali - she is a well written character that the reader cannot help but look up to. Whole the author is extraordinary at incorporating Hawaiian facts and stories into the narrative (I actually originally guessed that the story may be written by an anthropologist), the pacing of the plot was painful at times, and the usual elements that go into a crime novel were glaringly absent. At one point, I swore that if I had to read one more page about Kali visiting yet another solar panel company and receiving ZERO useful knowledge, I was going to rip my eyeballs out. Another frustrating moment came when the murderer was revealed - but no motive or account of the murder was actually given in the end (no criminal monologue OR summary by Kali at the end of the case). I'm still left wondering what happened to the poor soul exactly. I also audibly groaned when the rich/famous actor that follows the police department was mentioned - "Castle" vibes, anyone? All in all, "The Fire Thief" was a quick and, at times, fun read. While I did not overly enjoy this book myself, I have to admit that I will still pick up the next book released in the series and give it another try. Kali is just too unique of a character not to!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Det. Kali Māhoe is a cultural anthropologist who decided to join the the police academy after school and work alongside her uncle, Captain Walter Alaka'i, in the Maui PD. When the body of local teenage surfer Kekipi Smith washes up on a Maui beach it is first thought to be an accident but then the police discover evidence indicating that he was killed with a ritual weapon once used by Hawaiian warriors. Because of her expertise in cultural anthropology and her own family's knowledge of spiritual Det. Kali Māhoe is a cultural anthropologist who decided to join the the police academy after school and work alongside her uncle, Captain Walter Alaka'i, in the Maui PD. When the body of local teenage surfer Kekipi Smith washes up on a Maui beach it is first thought to be an accident but then the police discover evidence indicating that he was killed with a ritual weapon once used by Hawaiian warriors. Because of her expertise in cultural anthropology and her own family's knowledge of spiritual traditions Keli has become the go to person in cases like this and she is called in to investigate. Things are further complicated when another case comes in with supernatural overtones. Solar panels have been stolen from all over the island, and the eyewitnesses to these thefts have reported seeing a faceless figure like the noppera-bō of Japanese myth. Things escalate when another noppera-bō sighting involves the grisly dismemberment of a cat—and then, finally, andcworse than all, another body washes ashore. This is an immersive police procedural with an engaging and unusual female protagonist. You get too see both the beautiful tropical side of Hawaii and the dark seedy side. It shows that crime, poverty, discrimination, greed, and violence occurs even in paradise. The author's portrayal of how myth and cultural traditions still remain in modern Hawaii is fascinating and all the characters are developed and have distinct personalities. And there's a big dog! Hopefully this is just the first of many more cases for Detective Keli Māhoe. This book was received as a Goodreads giveaway

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather Manheim

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think this is a decent book. It would be good for the poolside or on the beach in the summer. It's a pretty easy and quick read - but that isn't a negative. My main problems with the book: #1. The ending seemed very rushed. It was a lot of build-up, and some good red herrings, but in the end, it was sort of just like, "Oh, this is who did it and why" in a quickly told few pages. The original kid they find murdered, he gets like a brush-over paragraph about why he was killed, and the same for t I think this is a decent book. It would be good for the poolside or on the beach in the summer. It's a pretty easy and quick read - but that isn't a negative. My main problems with the book: #1. The ending seemed very rushed. It was a lot of build-up, and some good red herrings, but in the end, it was sort of just like, "Oh, this is who did it and why" in a quickly told few pages. The original kid they find murdered, he gets like a brush-over paragraph about why he was killed, and the same for the elderly lady. I just sort of wish the author had delved more into exactly how and why these people were killed, but it was sort of basic in the description and the details. #2. The main character, Kali, her love interest story is left unfinished. There are two very real possibilities for her, and it's just left at "maybe" for both of them. It would make sense if there are other books to come, if this is a series. But, I'm not sure if it is. #3. Kali's stunt between the two boats and ultimate tackle of one of the villains was completely unrealistic, especially since she's supposed to have a dislocated shoulder. #4. The fact a cat gets cut in half is disgusting. While it's not described in overly graphic terms, it's just a nasty picture in your head. I feel like it could have been left at that the fact the cat was killed - that's sad enough. So - those were my least favorite things, but, overall, I enjoyed it, it has some good mystery to it, and learning about some Hawaiian culture and facts of Hawaiian gods was interesting, and something I did not know before.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I'm always drawn to books that bring the richness of Hawaii to life, drawing on its native beauty, culture, and traditions to create an intriguing, atmospheric setting. Bokur attempts to do this with THE FIRE THIEF, even if it feels like she's trying WAY too hard and falling far too short. Even still, the exotic Hawaiian backdrop is the best thing about this murder mystery. The characters are just not a very likable bunch. Even Kali and Walter come off as cold, crochety, and uncaring. Kali has t I'm always drawn to books that bring the richness of Hawaii to life, drawing on its native beauty, culture, and traditions to create an intriguing, atmospheric setting. Bokur attempts to do this with THE FIRE THIEF, even if it feels like she's trying WAY too hard and falling far too short. Even still, the exotic Hawaiian backdrop is the best thing about this murder mystery. The characters are just not a very likable bunch. Even Kali and Walter come off as cold, crochety, and uncaring. Kali has the potential to be an appealing heroine, but Bokur tries so hard to make her tough (HOW many times can she possibly mention Kali's warrior tattoos??) and independent that the detective ends up feeling unapproachable, unsympathetic, and invulnerable. Not to mention completely unconvincing as either a cop or an anthropologist. As far as plot goes, THE FIRE THIEF moves on "island time" - it takes forever to get anywhere. The murder mystery quickly becomes a secondary plot that is overtaken by a MUCH less interesting hunt for stolen solar panels. Besides a melodramatic fight sequence at the end, there's little conflict or action to keep the tale exciting. In the end, then, I found THE FIRE THIEF to be a dull read marked by clumsy plotting, flat characters, and uneven storytelling. I only finished it because I'm trying to read a book set in every state and I needed Hawaii! If I could give this book 2 1/2 stars I would; since I can't, I'm rounding up.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cheyenne

    3 ⭐ CW: violence, murder, substance use/addiction (specifically meth), death of an animal, torturing of an animal, racism toward Hawaiian Natives The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur is a police procedural mystery set in the Hawaiian islands. Full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan of mysteries to begin with, but this book wasn't that great. We follow Detective Kali Māhoe, who is also the kahuof her community (spiritual leader). Throughout the novel she is trying to solve the murder of a teen surfer that d 3 ⭐ CW: violence, murder, substance use/addiction (specifically meth), death of an animal, torturing of an animal, racism toward Hawaiian Natives The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur is a police procedural mystery set in the Hawaiian islands. Full disclosure, I'm not a huge fan of mysteries to begin with, but this book wasn't that great. We follow Detective Kali Māhoe, who is also the kahuof her community (spiritual leader). Throughout the novel she is trying to solve the murder of a teen surfer that died in a suspicious way. Honestly, for a mystery/thriller, the story and plot were quite boring. I didn't think there was enough actual plot and too much time spent on things that didn't really matter. The only thing that saves this book from getting only 2 stars, was the Hawaiian culture and folklore that was peppered in throughout. Because of Kali's Kahu status, we get plenty of background on the culture and beliefs of the Pacific Islander peoples. I love learning about other cultures creation myths and the heroes/villains that go with them. We get to learn a little about the demigod Maui, the goddess Pele, and a little about their death rituals. I thought the Hawaiian folklore would be a significant part of the murder investigation, but it turned out to be a red herring, which was disappointing. I don't think I care enough about this to continue with the rest of the books of the series. If you are a fan of police procedurals and mysteries, this might work for you as it think it may qualify as cosy? It kind of felt like an poorly done episode of of CSI.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ryo

    I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway. This is a murder mystery set in Hawaii, but I thought the murder mystery part was rather weak. What I did find compelling was the setting; maybe it's because I read this during the middle of the pandemic, but reading a story that takes place in Hawaii, with its descriptions of beaches and Hawaiian food and legends, was a refreshing change of pace. I liked Kali, the main character, a detective who is also a spiritual healer in Maui. I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway. This is a murder mystery set in Hawaii, but I thought the murder mystery part was rather weak. What I did find compelling was the setting; maybe it's because I read this during the middle of the pandemic, but reading a story that takes place in Hawaii, with its descriptions of beaches and Hawaiian food and legends, was a refreshing change of pace. I liked Kali, the main character, a detective who is also a spiritual healer in Maui. She has to do her job as a detective while being haunted by memories of her ex-fiancée and respecting her spiritual ancestry and the lore of the islands. But the actual murder case itself serves mostly as an excuse for Kali to visit various locations around a couple of islands, and at the end, the villains are cartoonish and over the top. It wasn't clear to me why they needed to do what they did, and they seemed to just be completely and unrealistically evil. The final showdown was ludicrous. There's a grappling hook between two moving boats involved, and it seemed like something straight out of a cheesy action movie. But I enjoyed the leisurely trip around Hawaii that made up the bulk of the book, for the scenery and the culture.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    The story starts off with finding a young man dead who's death is thought to be an accident. The story is set in Maui with the main character, Kali, a native Hawaiian woman who is police officer and a spiritual leader in her community. She works with her uncle on the police force to find out what happened to the boy. In the meantime, solar panels are being stolen off people's houses and Kali works to find out what is going on. Kali has some personal issues she is dealing with including getting ov The story starts off with finding a young man dead who's death is thought to be an accident. The story is set in Maui with the main character, Kali, a native Hawaiian woman who is police officer and a spiritual leader in her community. She works with her uncle on the police force to find out what happened to the boy. In the meantime, solar panels are being stolen off people's houses and Kali works to find out what is going on. Kali has some personal issues she is dealing with including getting over the death of her fiance, being attracted to her neighbor and a man she meets during the investigation, plus looking out for her fiance's daughter. The story has some quirky local characters, addresses the issues is small town police departments, natives versus tourists and outsiders who have moved to the islands. A good mystery. Good descriptions of the area where the story is set. Interspersed some island history and legends.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marshall Wayne Lee

    “The Fire Theif” by Debra Bokar receives 3 stars from me. It isn’t bad, but in the end I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would going into it. This was read by Emily Woo Zeller, and I found her reading fine. I’m not overwelmed by her reading but she’s good solid reader. She read most of it in a sort of whisper, which was actually kind of fun for a mystery. The book and why three stars. I didn’t hate the book but I didn’t find it very mysterious. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t figure out who t “The Fire Theif” by Debra Bokar receives 3 stars from me. It isn’t bad, but in the end I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would going into it. This was read by Emily Woo Zeller, and I found her reading fine. I’m not overwelmed by her reading but she’s good solid reader. She read most of it in a sort of whisper, which was actually kind of fun for a mystery. The book and why three stars. I didn’t hate the book but I didn’t find it very mysterious. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t figure out who the killer was so that’s good. However, I felt that Bokar doesn’t give enough clues to figure it out. Of course, this is more of a police procedural than it is a mystery. However, I always try to figure out who the killer is. I didn’t not like who one of the mainland characters referred to the Hawaiians, or other things which were said about the Hawaiians. It didn’t make much sense to me to have that. Recommended: I think people read these kinds of novels may enjoy it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Amazing! Degreed cultural anthropologist/spiritual leader of her people/police detective Kali Mahoe works the case of a promising young man who was murdered and also the felonious thefts of solar panels by lore savvy thieves. I loved the imagery of the island lore as well as the personalities of the characters. Some nasty bits but no worse than some other ritualistic remains. Sometimes I'd get lost in the lore and have to go back to catch a thread of the investigation, but then I'm a history gee Amazing! Degreed cultural anthropologist/spiritual leader of her people/police detective Kali Mahoe works the case of a promising young man who was murdered and also the felonious thefts of solar panels by lore savvy thieves. I loved the imagery of the island lore as well as the personalities of the characters. Some nasty bits but no worse than some other ritualistic remains. Sometimes I'd get lost in the lore and have to go back to catch a thread of the investigation, but then I'm a history geek. There is exceptional due diligence recorded and the evidence is all trial ready. The publisher's blurb is a pretty good hook and I don't do spoilers, but I loved it and look forward to the next one! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Thank you!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Kallenbach

    Quirky characters, Hawaiian legends, and renewable energy all rolled into one lively murder mystery set on Maui! This would make a fantastic beach read, but during the pandemic I had to make do with dreaming of Hawaii by reading THE FIRE THIEF. I loved the native-Hawaiian female detective, Kali Mahoe, who is also a cultural anthopologist. And I got a kick out of gruff-but-lovable Walter, her cop uncle, who calls in Kali to investigate the suspicious death of a teenaged surfer. The book had all t Quirky characters, Hawaiian legends, and renewable energy all rolled into one lively murder mystery set on Maui! This would make a fantastic beach read, but during the pandemic I had to make do with dreaming of Hawaii by reading THE FIRE THIEF. I loved the native-Hawaiian female detective, Kali Mahoe, who is also a cultural anthopologist. And I got a kick out of gruff-but-lovable Walter, her cop uncle, who calls in Kali to investigate the suspicious death of a teenaged surfer. The book had all the required twists and turns, but what really stood out was the Hawaiian legends and spiritual beliefs and Bokur's beautiful descriptions of the natural side of the island.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    I was not aware of any Hawaiian historical superstitions, and saw no sign of them when on Maui. Maui police captain, Walter Alaka’i, and his granddaughter Kali investigate strange murder of young surfer to start the story. Kali is on path of following her grandmother to becoming the next spiritual leader as knowledge-keeper of Hawaii’s traditional beliefs/ghostly superstitions. People being murdered, and grisly sacrificial evidence being left on doorstep, indicate that these old rituals might be I was not aware of any Hawaiian historical superstitions, and saw no sign of them when on Maui. Maui police captain, Walter Alaka’i, and his granddaughter Kali investigate strange murder of young surfer to start the story. Kali is on path of following her grandmother to becoming the next spiritual leader as knowledge-keeper of Hawaii’s traditional beliefs/ghostly superstitions. People being murdered, and grisly sacrificial evidence being left on doorstep, indicate that these old rituals might be only the beginning or more to come. Kali balances logic and superstition with the killings and her neighbor’s (and others) seeing faceless “ghosts” stealing their costly rooftop panels.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Zajonc

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Author Debra Bokur brings her Maui-set mystery to life with a cast of memorable characters and a flawlessly immersive setting. The central mystery propels Detective Kali Mahoe through twists and turns in a fascinating reinvention of the detective archetype. Bokur shines as she shows us how the ability to navigate and understand culture and tradition is just as important as forensic evidence. A must-read for anyone with an affinity for Hawaii and compelling mystery n Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Author Debra Bokur brings her Maui-set mystery to life with a cast of memorable characters and a flawlessly immersive setting. The central mystery propels Detective Kali Mahoe through twists and turns in a fascinating reinvention of the detective archetype. Bokur shines as she shows us how the ability to navigate and understand culture and tradition is just as important as forensic evidence. A must-read for anyone with an affinity for Hawaii and compelling mystery novels.

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