First, Storm Kayama discovers workaholic Honolulu lawyer Miles Hamasaki, her mentor and adoptive uncle, dead at his desk; then she finds her boyfriend Rick in bed with another woman (dumping a pot of hot chili on the bed lifts her spirits only temporarily). No one in the firm or the police department suspects foul play in Hamasaki’s death; he was 77 years old, and evidence points to a heart attack. But he was handling a sensitive, and top-secret, case whose files are nowhere to be found. After Storm is attacked in a parking garage, she decides to get away to the slower pace and rugged beauty of the Big Island, where nurturing Aunt Maile dispenses native wisdom and TLC. When someone tries to run Storm off a twisty mountain road, however, she decides to investigate Hamasaki’s death. Cautiously accepting hunky lawyer Hamlin’s offers of support and romance, Storm covers a lot of tropical ground, lush with descriptions of landscapes and cuisine. A little digging unearths likely suspects all over the place—clients, co-workers, and even the surviving family, which closes ranks to prevent Storm from probing too deep. But the murder of Hamasaki’s trusted secretary Lorraine tells Storm she’s close to cracking the case. The discovery of secret documents and ensuing threats by a psycho killer precipitate the inorganic solution.
A debut whose exotic setting and plucky heroine suggest the romantic suspense of a bygone era. Atkinson’s abundant local color can’t overcome her dull, long-winded prose and one-dimensional plot.