For this Murder She Wrote novel, Jessica takes us to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Maui, and we get to vicariously enjoy the tourist sites, the food, festivals, and the local attitude, Live the Aloha Spirit, a saying worn on badges by the many workers in the island’s large tourist industry. It is a spirit of friendliness and community, but as Jessica learns all too tragically, not everyone on the island lives the Aloha spirit.
Jessica is on Maui as a guest of the police department to share the lecture stage with retired Maui detective and local big kahuna, Mike Kane, to talk about community involvement in crime solving to police recruits. While she is there, she plans to visit the niece (Mala) of her friend Seth Hazlitt’s old university pal, Barrett Kapule, who sadly passed away recently. She has a letter of condolences from Seth to pass on to the family. Mala, a botanist of some reputation, is teaching about invasive species of plants at the local community college and is in competition for the chair position of that department. She is also spearheading a committee to prevent a multi-million dollar project to build a large telescope at the top of Haleakala, one of the two volcanoes that form the island, because it could seriously upset the ecological balance of the volcano, and also because the land is sacred to the natives. Jessica and Mala plan to attend the same luau but miss each other. When Mala is found dead the next day, having fallen (or been pushed) from the edge of a cliff not far from where the luau was held, Jessica is haunted by a conversation she overhead while exploring the nearby area. She and Mike decide to find out for themselves what happened.
The teaser just inside the cover was extremely effective. It’s from a very intense part of the story about 3/4 of the way through the book where there is an attempt on Jessica’s life. Had to keep reading until I got there. If you never wanted to visit Hawaii before, you’ll definitely want to after reading this book. You can bike all over the island, which is perfect for Jessica since she doesn’t drive, and there is a wonderful bus trip up Haleakala for a spectacular view of the sunrise and the option to bike down the steep mountain road with its 29 switchbacks, a ride which could be hazardous to your health. Especially if you’re Jessica Fletcher and sticking your nose in where other people don’t want it!
Lots of possible motives for murder here, especially with such a beautiful victim and several competing beaus, and Jessica has a hunch there may be a young witness whose family doesn’t want him caught up in the investigation — it could be hazardous to his health. If you loved the TV series, you’ll love the books. This makes 19 of them I’ve read and I’ve enjoyed every one. * * * * *
Murder She Wrote books are available at Amazon.