A woman disappears on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, in this second novel in Perry’s (Barbarous Coasts, 2013) Karl Standt series.
Former NYPD detective Standt takes on a private assignment from Sam Wilcox, the father of Amanda Wilcox, a woman who went missing off the coast of Kauai while paddle-boarding on a calm day. The sheriff deemed it a death by shark attack, due to the state of her board when it was eventually found. But her body hasn’t turned up, and other people on the island, including a cop, Chris Ke’alohilani, believe the board was doctored. Amanda was working for an organization publicizing the damaging effects of genetically modified plants, and at first, Standt’s only leads seem to point to Monsanto, a company researching and producing genetically modified plants on the island. But Standt soon uncovers Amanda’s addiction to painkillers and her possible connection to unsavory drug dealers. With the help of others, including Chris K. Church (a lanky loner and computer whiz), Katie Hudson (Standt’s journalist girlfriend, reporting for Slate magazine) and real-life actress Scarlett Johansson (Amanda’s childhood friend), Standt unravels the truth about Amanda’s disappearance and risks his life to go after the seedy men involved. Perry reprises his Karl Standt character here, but this novel can easily stand on its own. The island of Kauai is a character in itself (“the flat river moved with a hypnotic slowness, like heavy floodwaters”), and Perry effectively describes its culture, including the super-rich who view Kauai as a trust-fund playground, the surfing locals who personify the laid-back island vibe, and the plague of drugs that are harvested and sold there. Perry depicts the different sides of island life through the perspective of New Yorker Standt, who’s out of his element but relies on his instincts. Although the plot sometimes glosses over details, it eventually provides a thrilling revelation.
An exciting new installment in Perry’s detective series.