Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mahu Vice: A Hawaiian Mystery by Neil S Plakcy

Mahu Vice: A Hawaiian Mystery by Neil S Plakcy $31.99

‘What's new and hot in gay men's fiction these days?’ I asked my gay Sydney-based bookseller friend, Cameron. ‘You’ve got to read the new Mahu from Neil S Plakcy called Mahu Vice,’ was his immediate recommendation.  As this author was new to me, ideally I would have liked to start with the first in the series. But life doesn’t work like that so without further ado I introduced myself to the fourth book in the ‘Mahu series’ featuring a mixed race and openly gay homicide detective who goes by the name of Kimo Kanapa'aka.

In Mahu Vice the story begins with Kimo being challenged by his older brothers to sort out his crap and stop moping. For the last year he’s been avoiding surfing and communicating with his normally close family, because he has broken off his relationship with hunky fire investigator Mike Riccardi after discovering evidence of some playing around on Mike’s part.  Next thing they meet up at a suspicious fire at a small shopping centre that used to be owned by Kimo's father.  However, the building isn't the only thing that is smouldering.  But ever the professionals, Mike and Kimo start working on their respective parts of the investigation. Any clues to the cause of the fire are scarce but Kimo and his straight partner Ray conduct a thorough investigation that keeps uncovering more and more leads. 

While a conventional thriller, gay men and extreme sexual acts do play a part in the story, but at the end of the day it is a mystery crime novel, not a jerk-off fantasy read. The characters are fully formed with clearly described personalities and relationships and the workings of the police department ring true. All in all it’s Hawaii from Waikiki to Oahu's North Shore - seen and written about from a local's view. 

At 276 pages it’s shorter than your standard Deaver or Rankin, but it certainly makes a pleasant change to read about the life - and somewhat fraught times - of a gay cop. And it would make a very enjoyable holiday read, not least thanks to the affirming gay scenarios in this rather straight world of ours. Recommended summer reading.

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