A slightly odd but enjoyable mix of police procedural and thriller…
Retribution is the fifth book in Robert McCaw’s Koa Kane series, set in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a slightly odd mix of police procedural and thriller, and although readers may have to suspend disbelief occasionally as a result, Retribution is still a fun and quick read. And its strong investigative elements help it shine.
As the story opens, Koa Kane, Hilo’s Chief Detective, is stunned to learn that there’s seemingly incontrovertible evidence that his brother, who had struggled with the law in the past, but is now clean (and pardoned by the governor), killed a street kid near a dive bar. Kane knows he shouldn’t get involved, but of course he has to investigate, even if it’s unofficially. While he’s doing that, though, he also gets word that one of his team members, Detective Makanui, has been shot at, saved only by her bullet proof vest. And then a bomb goes off. And then another. As things get more complicated, the questions multiply. Are Hilo’s mayor and his cronies simply the rather petty political animals they appear to be, or is something more going on? And what about the gun used to shoot Makanui, a Russian sniper’s rifle? Is there an international element to this? Might the bombings indicate some sort of a terrorist tie-in? Even more crimes occur, but eventually Kane and his team use legwork and their investigative chops to figure out what’s going on.
I am a big fan of police procedurals, and I loved following along as Kane and his team tracked down suspicious bank deposits, relied on pizza-delivery drivers for alibis, got info off burner phones, learned more than they (or I) ever expected to know about fingerprints, and much more. On the other hand, I had not read any of the previous books in the series, and although McCaw does a pretty good job of filling in some background, I still felt a bit confused on occasion, such as when a past criminal appears as a major plot element late in the story. So I think I’d recommend that readers start with the first book and read the series in order. Also, as mentioned above, I felt as if it was a bit of a stretch for serious international terrorist elements to be popping up in Hilo – not that it couldn’t happen, but it just felt highly improbable. (This is the same feeling I have from time to time in Martin Walker’s Bruno series, when terrorists show up in a tiny town in the French countryside.) But, in the overall scheme of things, the investigative fun far outweighed the improbable stuff, and I definitely enjoyed Retribution enough to put the previous books in the series on my watch list to pick up someday. And finally, I’d like to express my thanks to the publishers, Oceanview Publishing, for the advance review copy!