A psychological thriller with spiritual overtones, set in Hawaii.
Lizbeth Hartz, the levelheaded and high-spirited heroine of this fiction debut by an author of the same name (in an Author’s Note, she mentions that the stories in her fictionalized memoir are drawn from real life), thinks her humdrum life of shuttling between a boring job and her ongoing search for a shining prince to sweep her off her feet has finally turned around. She has been hired as a dispatcher for Whaler Air Force Base in central Oahu, and among the many memorable characters she meets there is Vic Lazzarini, tall, tanned, soft-spoken, and courteous. Vic is the first male co-worker Liz has ever encountered who treats her with good humor and respect, and she begins to become comfortable daydreaming about him and innocently flirting with him (at first, she takes it no further, because she has a boyfriend). She’s far less comfortable around short, disreputable, slightly creepy Jaku Cardoza, an islander with an angry edge, and she can’t understand the friendship the two men seem to have. The plot catapults into action early on when Vic is found murdered, shot to death by none other than Jaku, who’s out on bail alarmingly soon and free to pose a danger to Liz. The author displays a wide array of skills in this taut, fast-paced novel. She’s adept at evoking the atmosphere and day-to-day feel of both contemporary Hawaii and the sometimes high-pressure world of a dispatch operator (the workplace drama elements of the book are well-handled throughout). Her characters feel fleshed-out even when they’re unsavory (Jaku is every bit as compelling as any of the less predictable “good guys,” for instance), and her dramatic sense for slowly, expertly unfolding the police investigation into Vic’s death is surefire. Her cops sound and act like real cops (usually a notorious weakness of novels like this). Readers should find the well-orchestrated climax satisfyingly gripping.
A tense, well-realized
police procedural starring a memorably resilient heroine.