Saturday 13 April 2024

Molten Death (An Orchid Isle Mystery Book # 1) by Leslie Karst

A glimpse of a quickly melting corpse at the foot of a volcano has amateur sleuth and food enthusiast Valerie Corbin shocked. But how can she investigate a murder, when there's no evidence the victim ever existed?

The first Orchid Isle cozy mystery, set in tropical Hilo, Hawai'i, introduces a fun and feisty LGBTQ+ couple who swap surfing lessons for sleuthing sessions! Retired caterer Valerie Corbin and her wife Kristen have come to the Big Island of Hawai'i to treat themselves to a well-earned tropical vacation. After the recent loss of her brother, Valerie is in sore need of a distraction from her troubles and is looking forward to enjoying the delicious food and vibrant culture the state has to offer. 

Early one morning, the couple and their friend - tattooed local boy, Isaac - set out to see an active lava flow, and Valerie is mesmerized by the shape-shifting mass of orange and red creeping over the field of black rock. Spying a boot in the distance, she strides off alone, pondering how it could have gotten there, only to realize to her horror that the boot is still attached to a leg - a leg which is slowly being engulfed by the hot lava. Valerie's convinced a murder has been committed - but as she's the only witness to the now-vanished corpse, who's going to believe her?

Determined to prove what she saw, and get justice for the unknown victim, Valerie launches her own investigation. But, thrown into a Hawaiian culture far from the luaus and tiki bars of glossy tourist magazines, she soon begins to fear she may be the next one to end up entombed in shiny black rock . . .The amiable characters, stunning backdrop and culinary delights make this the perfect cozy of fans who enjoy a tropical vacation with a twisty murder mystery and compelling Hawai'ian culture - paired with an added bonus of recipes of local Hawai'ian dishes!  (Summary via Goodreads)

Molten Death is the first book in the new Orchid Isle Mystery series by Leslie Karst.  And if you know Karst, I know her via Facebook, you shouldn't be surprised that she is centering this new series in Hawaii.

In Molten Death Valerie and her wife Kristen are vacationing in Hilo, Hawaii at Kristen's friend Isaac's house.  They are there to relax and allow Valerie to grieve the death of her brother Charlie which she lost in a horrible accident.  Unfortunately when they go to visit the site of an active volcano flow, Valerie sees a boot and part of a leg being covered by the hot lava and disappearing.  And sadly Kristen and Isaac were no where near her when she witnessed this so they do not believe her when she tries to explain.  Because this traumatic siting is so close to the way her brother died, Valerie cannot stop thinking about it.

So instead of having a nice, relaxing vacation taking in the sites of Hawaii, Valerie is unable to stop thinking about the boot and when she learns of a local reported as missing, she goes full force into learning everything she can about the missing person.  Unfortunately Kristen and Isaac do not believe her and think that she is wasting her time and vacation looking into something that didn't happen.  This puts a lot of tension on their relationship and Valerie knows that she cannot stop with things until she gets to the bottom of everything.  This makes things difficult as Valerie doesn't know anyone and when she begins asking questions about people she doesn't know, people become on edge.....

Readers will love this series and luckily Karst has a glossary in the back of the book defining all the Hawaiian words and slang she uses throughout the book so readers can use slang as well.

Readers will thoroughly love this story and for once this book does not have the main character fighting with the police or detectives throughout the "investigation" which is a nice change but doesn't take anything away from the story,  And knowing how familiar the author is with Hawaii makes the readers feel like they are there along for the ride.  Happy traveling readers !!!

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