If you’ve never been to Hawaii you’ll feel like you have after reading Pleasing the Dead. A mystery set in the islands intrigued me from the beginning. As Deborah Turrell Atkinson writes: some nasty predators dwell in paradise, and they aren’t all hiding in the azure waters. In such an idyllic setting, who would expect anything could go wrong? The combination of innocence and violence, weakness and power is appealing in Pleasing the Dead, the fourth novel in Atkinson’s Storm Kayama series.
The action begins immediately when attorney, Storm Kayama arrives in Kahului to help client, Lara Farrell, set up her new dive shop and someone bombs a restaurant. Things get darker when one of Lara’s staff suddenly takes his own life and that of his young daughter. Storm puts herself in danger when she begins to ask questions.
The story takes us into the underworld of organized crime, where the leaders exploit and contaminate everything they touch, including underage women, local businesses, real estate, and politics. They wipe out anyone brave enough to take them on. Enter Storm Kayama.
Smart and savvy, Storm is willing to go where others won’t and interfere, risking her already strained relationship and putting her own life in danger in the process.
Atkinson brings the reader to Maui with her. We smell the smoke from the bombed out building, breath the scorched, suffocating air, and feel the eyes of the crime bosses hone in on their victims.
Atkinson excels in her detail and gives us an intimate look at the darker side of the islands. The strong relationships between the main characters and the way they pull together to stand up to their tormentors is refreshing and endearing. The relationships are complex yet completely believable.
At times, it took a little effort to keep a few of the Japanese names straight; some being very similar they almost morphed, requiring the re-read, or several re-reads of some of the pages.
Pleasing The Dead has an intricate plot based in both the past and the present. It is a very good read.