Torch Ginger is the second book in the Lei Crime Novels series written by Toby Neal, the first being Blood Orchids.
In this book, main character Leilani Texeira is a police detective who must lead her team in solving serial murders that involve the disappearance of a certain class of tourists and are probably cult related. These murders occur on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, which is, as Ms. Neal’s story describes it: “…the last of the Wild West, a jungle paradise of secretive people and strange spiritual forces.”
The first obstacle Detective Texiera encounters is the fact that murders have been occurring for some time and the police have not noticed. The second comes in the form of the ambitions of others on the police force with whom she serves. And there is the issue of a past love, someone she is desperately trying to leave behind, being assigned to her team. Add in the fact that Lei falls in love with one of the suspects, and throw in a spiritualist who is consulting on the cultic aspect of the case, but seems more interested in Leilani’s personal life. And there is Leilani’s past; something she doesn’t like to talk about but threatens to interfere with her ability to do her job, and you have the threads that weave the tapestry that is Torch Ginger.
Along the way we are treated to majestic visions of this island paradise. Being a resident of Hawaii, Ms. Neal certainly has a grasp of her material and describes it well. The locations and the people come alive through her words, and the strangeness of it all adds a richness to her well-crafted story.
As we progress, several potential villains surface and add intrigue. Pick the one you most suspect, then read to the end to see if you’re right. I can almost guarantee you won’t be!
Ms. Neal is able to tell an exciting story yet keep that story one any audience can enjoy. Her characters don’t have to be “tough” by spewing filthy language and the murder scenes aren’t made exciting by spattering everything in blood. Toby crafts suspense through conflict and foreshadowing. Her plot is crisp and vital. Sub-plots add to the richness of the story, allowing the reader access to back-story without tedious blocks of exposition.
This is a well written story with engaging characters in a mystical setting. The romance component is handled with emotion and sweetness rather than graphic lust. The editing is top-notch, producing a book that is as professionally done as anything coming out of a Big-6 publishing house. I can recommend this book to mystery fans of all ages and sensibilities.
For more about Toby Neal and the books she’s written, visit her author web site: http://www.tobyneal.net/books/