I read a lot of crime fiction. Crime fiction has, in fact, become my “comfort genre,” the kind of book I turn to when my reading has gone stale and needs a kick-start to get it rolling again. But that also means I have grown very familiar with “the type,” those male detectives who sometimes all seem to have been spawned by the same dysfunctional family. They can be so alike sometimes that they become dangerously interchangeable in the mind of the reader.
Not so with Mike Bond’s Pono Hawkins. Pono, a Special Forces vet who spends his days surfing Waikiki, giving surfing lessons to the less talented, and writing for surfing magazines, is different. He is a “reluctant detective,” an amateur who wants to solve a murder because everyone else is so overeager to call it an accident. And, frankly, Pono has fallen a little bit in love with the pretty young woman whose body bumps into him early one morning as he wades into the surf in search of the next good wave. This is personal – very personal.
Sylvia Gordon, an investigative journalist for The Honolulu Post, was onto a story big enough to get her killed. It is obvious even to an amateur like Pono that the young woman was a threat to some very powerful people. When his own nosing around gets their attention, as it soon does, Pono finds out just how willing these people are to kill to protect their secrets. Pono, though, is not a man without resources and certain talents, and he is not as easy to kill as the naïve young reporter who was in way over her head. Game on.
Saving Paradise is a rousing crime thriller – but it is so much more. Pono Hawkins is a dedicated environmentalist, a native of Hawaii who very much loves the islands but regrets what they have become. Pono is a thinker, a man who sees a bigger picture than most, and Mike Bond deftly (and painlessly) uses the character to instruct the reader in Hawaiian history from an insider’s point-of-view.
Bottom Line: Saving Paradise is a highly atmospheric thriller focusing on a side of Hawaiian life that tourists seldom see – or want to see. Native Hawaiians have a long history of being exploited by people with money, one that to perhaps a lesser degree continues even today. Pono Hawkins, a Hawaiian with a prominent white ancestor, will tell you all about it.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)