Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
Alternate cover edition of ASIN B006FBDHG2

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei's intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she's being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei's quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

314 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 27, 2011

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Toby Neal

90 books900 followers
Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age 5. After initially majoring in journalism, she eventually settled on mental health as a career and loves her work, saying, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.”

Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters–from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in the Lei Crime Series, to the wounds and psychological implications of the heroes of the Scorch Series.

Get TWO FREE full length Toby Neal books by signing up for her newsletter here! http://www.subscribepage.com/TobyNeal...

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
3,042 (32%)
4 stars
3,562 (37%)
3 stars
2,120 (22%)
2 stars
507 (5%)
1 star
198 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 803 reviews
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,096 reviews2,663 followers
March 5, 2023
Leilani Texeira was a cop in the small Hawaiian town of Hilo and on a routine patrol with her partner Pono, they discovered the bodies of two young women in the ponds. Lei knew one of the girls - she'd busted her a couple of weeks prior, but as the investigation began with Detective Michael Stevens in charge, Lei felt echoes from her past. Soon she was being stalked and although her guard dog and best friend, Rottweiler, Keiki, was a constant when she was off duty, her paranoia was beginning to cripple her. When another woman disappeared, this time a close friend, Lei and her colleagues were desperate to find this person or persons. But would they? Could they stop this brutal killer before more died?

It's amazing how we find new authors I think. I needed a book set in Hawaii for a challenge and when I searched, I discovered I had Blood Orchids on my kindle, there since March 2012, originally published 2011. And wow! What a gritty, tension-filled ride it took me on! Lei is a very damaged young woman, with a past she hasn't dealt with yet. Keiki is adorable (even though I'm pretty scared of Rotties myself) But I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Orchids, 1st in the Paradise Crime Mysteries, unable to put it down, especially as I neared the end. My first read by Toby Neal (whom I thought was male until I checked her profile!) and it won't be my last! Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Paula.
545 reviews7 followers
July 14, 2017
This was just an okay read for me. The main character, Lei, was so messed up and had so many bad things endlessly happening to her that it became tiresome after awhile and I found myself losing interest in the story the more it went on. I did like the setting of Hilo, Hawaii, though and I loved Lei's dog, Keiki.
Profile Image for Erth.
3,500 reviews
October 19, 2018
Bravo! A good fast read! now i am hooked. This was such a great, easy and creative book. i was hooked after the first page.

The characters were easy to fall in love with and follow, along with the story. the author made the mental visions so easy and vivid of the surroundings and the characters actions felt so real.

i would highly recommend this author and this book.
Profile Image for TXGAL1.
262 reviews30 followers
October 31, 2018
I downloaded this free ebook from Barnes & Noble and what a nice surprise. Toby Neal has written a series of crime novels set on the Hawaiian Islands. Lei Texeira is the spunky young crime fighter with the Hilo Police Department trying to solve a deadly crime wave while simultaneously fighting her own demons.

I was intrigued by this book when I learned the backdrop would be Hawaii. Would the author share an authentic Hawaiian background in terms of its people, food, and culture? Toby Neal did not disappoint. Not only was the story a page-turner, but I also felt as though I was back in Hawaii, absorbing the sights, smells, sways of the Hawaiian way of life.

I'm looking foward to reading the second book in the series, TORCH GINGER!
286 reviews
June 8, 2012
I actually haven't been reading very many mysteries of late, so I enjoyed diving back into the genre with Blood Orchids, Toby Neal's debut crime novel. This was a fast-paced book that proved to be a quick read and was perfect for the last few evenings. Not only do we have the mystery behind the discovery of that first murder scene, but ultimately Lei Texeira is embroiled in her own frightening scenario involving a creepy stalker. Naturally, one starts to wonder if the two mysteries are connected, though Neal presents several plausible possibilities and keeps you guessing.

I liked the fact that it wasn't immediately obvious as to who the various perpetrators might be. However, in the end when the cases were resolved, it almost felt like the answer came out of left field. I didn't think there were enough clues that would enable you to solve the crimes on your own. Sure, there were a few suspicious characters along the way, but when did we learn about the key points that would have made us realize who the true murderer or stalker was? Or perhaps Neal was sneaky enough to just slip things in where they might be missed?? :-)

In the end, that was my only complaint about the book. Blood Orchids was full of action and some romance, too. The dynamic between Lei and Michael Stevens was exciting to watch unfold. I also enjoyed that the story was set in Hawaii. I admit that I'm not too familiar with the culture there, so I was able to get a brief glimpse into a small part of the island life. You'll find an interesting mix of characters, including the psychiatrist that Lei has to go see for mandatory counseling.

If you are looking for a mystery that's relatively quick to read and will get your heart racing just a bit, then I urge you to give Blood Orchids a try. Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour!!
Profile Image for Melodie.
589 reviews64 followers
September 24, 2016
I love a good mystery, but I have found that not all authors deliver one that I can't figure out. I love to be kept guessing. Toby Neal fit the bill. A likeable female cop with her share of issues is trying to solve a murder and put an end to someone stalking her.Lots of mystery, with a healthy dose of romance. I like that the romance doesn't take over the story.
This is a series and I will so be continuing to read this author. Well done Toby Neal!
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,559 reviews2,312 followers
February 5, 2020
Blood Orchids
(Paradise Crime Mysteries, Book 1)
By: Toby Neal
Narrated by: Sara Malia Hatfield
This is an amazing mystery for a serial killer. The main characters are cops. The book is very character driven but has plenty of clues too! Very easy to fall into this world.
The narration is spot on.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,331 reviews118 followers
June 9, 2022
Hawaiian noir? Emotionally damaged police officer—check. Weird, multiple bad guys—check. Oh—wait a minute—there is also a romantic subplot that seems out-of-place in a police procedural/thriller. Perhaps Neal’s plots will evolve in her subsequent offerings. Regardless, I enjoyed getting to know Lei Texeira of the Hilo Police Department residing on the Big Island with her wonderful dog Keiki, and am putting the next offering on my TBR list.
Profile Image for Char.
1 review2 followers
June 21, 2012
I would call this novel a murder/mystery with just enough romance. A perfect read!
Lei Texeira is the main character of the story. She has spent half her life in Hawaii and half in California. When her mother overdoses on drugs and her father is sent to jail, she is sent to California to live with her Aunty. She returns to Hawaii as a police officer, where she is put on a serial rapist/killer case and has a stalker to deal with. These cases open memories she has buried from the past forcing her to deal with them
Michael Stevens, the secondary character, is not only Lei’s co-work on the rapist/killer case but also her compelling love interest. With his patience and understanding their story develops wonderfully. There are a great many wonderful and touching scenes between Stevens and Lei.
I loved how Toby Neal kept me guessing. I would catch a clue and think that I knew who the stalker or killer was and then something would happen to make it obvious that I was so wrong. I was kept guessing til almost the end of the book and after all was said and done I had that AH-HA moment where it all made sense.
Toby Neal wrote a great novel. Grabs you from the very beginning and keeps you into it til the very last page. I love a great murder/mystery story, the romance was just an added perk. Everyone should check out Blook Orchids, A Lei Crime Novel. I shall be anxiously awaiting the next novel’s release.
Profile Image for Jonathan Brazee.
Author 152 books150 followers
June 26, 2013
I got this book during a free promo. After reading it, I would have happily paid for it.

I liked the protagonist, flaws and all. Too many times, authors make flawed characters so angst-ridden that the books are just painful to read. In this case, Lei, a junior officer in the Hilo Police Department, does not take it too far. She brings in a reasonable degree of issues that affect her, but not overwhelm her.

The entire setting was very "Hawaii." The author pretty much nailed that right on the head. I could almost smell the islands as I read.

As a police drama, the book was a bit formulaic and the reveal a little too pat (I like stronger "hints" that make me go back and think "Ah, I should have caught that earlier!") but there are only so many directions an author can take in a genre. The defining criteria on if a book is good or not becomes how well an author manages to pull it off. In this case, the author did an admirable job and created a book that I heartily recommend.
Profile Image for J.C. Martin.
Author 3 books115 followers
April 29, 2012
Having been brought up on crime novels, I can be a bit particular about books in the genre. With the genre saturated with middle-aged, white male detectives with failed marriages and a penchant for the bottle, few protagonists in crime novels are memorable enough for me to sit up and take notice of them.

Lei Texeira is one such protagonist. Far from being just a pretty face (and a pretty name!), Leilani Texeira is a plucky, intrepid policewoman haunted by her past. Driven and ambitious, Lei aspires to ditch her uniform to become a detective, but her impulsive initiative and stubbornness can sometimes land her in more trouble than she can handle. A strong and kick-butt heroine in a genre populated by male detectives, Lei nevertheless has a vulnerable side, as she struggles to let go of her past as a victim of child abuse. Ms. Neal's background as a mental health therapist definitely helped in portraying a determined but troubled character, adding realism and depth to a complex and compelling heroine.

Now to the story: Blood Orchids centres around the double murder of two high school girls. As officer Lei Texeira pursues the case, she herself is pursued by a stalker. The story is gripping, with heaps of action, and Ms. Neal did a fantastic job pacing the story, revealing nuggets of information one layer at a time. Whilst I mentally patted myself on the back when I correctly identified the killer, I certainly did not foresee that the story didn't end there! No spoilers here, but suffice it to say that what I initially thought was a predictable read, became far from it in the end, and that Lei's troubles were far from over!

Sure, at some points in the story, I did wonder, "Wow, what are the odds of all this misery befalling one single person?" But Ms. Neal's fast-paced writing left me little time to stop and think as it sweeps me along, and her very vivid portrayal of Lei's damaged psyche makes everything seem all the more believable.

With a riveting plot, intense action and drama, and vivid writing, what really made Blood Orchids for me, are the characters. Set in sunny and exotic Hawaii, Ms. Neal brings Big Island living to the masses with her rich portrayal of the island state's diverse peoples and cultures: Native Hawaiians, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos... the occasional inclusion of pidgin English adds flavour to the story, bringing the setting to life. My favourite characters include Pono, Lei's partner, and Keiki, Lei's faithful Rottweiler. Lei's budding romance with Detective Stevens made for some tender moments, and I am looking forward to seeing where their relationship will take them in the coming books -- yes, there are other books in the making! Lei Texeira will be back, and I for one am looking forward to it!

If you enjoy a taut murder mystery with some Big Island flavour, if you like your heroines to be strong yet vulnerable, and if you enjoy your stories dark, but laced with hope, then Blood Orchids is definitely for you!
Profile Image for Frederick Brooke.
Author 12 books428 followers
April 12, 2012
I've just finished reading Blood Orchids by Hawaii Mystery Author Toby Neal, and I'm still all jittery. It has nothing to do with coffee, either. The author builds a convincing web of horrors around main character Lei Texeira, and after reading this book I'm going to have a hard time relaxing again.

Lei is a police officer in Hilo, Hawaii, working to make detective and in the meantime keeping the lid on gangs, solving murders, and by the way also fending off her own personal stalker. The layers of this woman's history build slowly and naturally in this lush, tropical mystery. When the book opens, in classic murder mystery style, Lei has discovered two female victims floating in a creek, drowned and clearly murdered.

Lei herself was raped at age nine, and her mother died soon after of an overdose while her father was hauled off to prison. The girl grew up in a world that we call dysfunctional, but that makes it sound way too clean and nice. More like a world of pain and hurting, of bruises and scars and daytime nightmares and nighttime terror. As a result, flowers in Lei's world now that she's an adult feel almost like something venomous while her favorite gun, the Glock 40, earns her kisses and caresses. Lei has serious issues, as she is the first to admit.

I like it that the author is not afraid to make the characters talk in Hawaiian dialect. "'Someone been making trouble for me. I like you make it stop,' Lei said in pidgin." She handles this expertly, and you feel not only like you are in Hawaii, but like you are navigating between different social classes on the streets of second-city Hilo, Hawaii. I guess it's like Oakland compared to downtown San Francisco.

A California detective, Michael Stevens, has been brought in from the mainland to beef up the Hilo police force, and of course he chooses Lei Texeira to help him solve the murders. I'll give you one guess what happens next between Stevens and Lei Texeira. Although this developing romance fits the formula, it somehow acquires a unique twist when the two stick to rather Victorian rules of engagement they establish together: the romance can only begin once the murders are solved. This creates some interesting situations, especially when Lei's dysfunctional past rears its ugly head and threatens the budding relationship. These things are never easy!

I'm still getting over my jitters, but I've realized this book has it all. A beautiful lush setting in Hawaii, overflowing with exotic plants like Christmasberries, mango trees and, yes, orchids; a cast of gritty, sympathetic characters; a plot that keeps turning in on itself like a fugue; and dialogue laced with interesting local dialect. There's a lot of murder mysteries to choose from out there. You won't be disappointed with Blood Orchids.
Profile Image for Lyn (Readinghearts).
324 reviews15 followers
April 9, 2014
Blood Orchids is the debut thriller from author Toby Neal. The setting is Hawaii, where Lei Texiera is a police officer with the Hilo, Hawaii police force and who happens to be on call when the bodies of two young women are found raped and murdered. As the investigation into the crime continues, Lei is thrown back into her own troubled past. To make matters worse, it appears that she has attracted a stalker.

Lei Texiera is the best kind of central character, one that is complex and multi-layered, and throughout the book Toby Neal does an excellent job of putting us inside her head. On the surface, she is a bold, brash, cop who is always in control. Underneath, though is another person altogether. One that has survived a lot, and still bears the scars. This is what really made the book stand out for me. I was fascinated and engaged in learning about what made Lei into the person she was at this point in her life. Even more, I was interested in which road she would take from here. Would she rise above her past, or sink below it and continue to live a life destined to lead to self-destruction. What is even better, is that this question is not answered in just one book, leaving me wanting more and looking forward to the next book in the series.

The mystery in the book is well crafted, also. As the story unfolds, Toby Neal presents many possible scenarios for who is behind the rapes and murders and for the who and why of Lei's stalker. Ultimately I learned to suspect everyone, whether they seemed to be on the level or not, and to question whether the stalking was related to the investigation. These questions and the sheer number of theories I could formulate kept me turning the pages. Then, just when I thought the story was over and the questions had been answered, Toby Neal threw in a few more curves that really made the ending to the story stand out. Couple this with the questions regarding where the main characters were headed in the future have me anticipation the rest of the series.

This book was a win for me. The mystery was top-notch and fast paced, although it was almost a back story to Lei's for me. Lei's story, however, was compelling with just enough questions answered to satisfy me, but just enough left hanging to make me want to read more. In addition, Toby Neal's depiction of the culture of Hilo was spot on, all the way down to her use of Hawaiian pidgin. I would highly recommend this book to mystery readers, especially if you like exotic locations or strong character back stories.

I would like to thank Toby Neal for making this book available through the Sisterhood of the Traveling Book in exchange for my review.
Profile Image for Marilynn Larew.
Author 8 books65 followers
September 26, 2013
The first volume of Toby Neal’s series starring Hawaiian cop, Lei Texira, is a page turner. Lei is a patrol officer working out of the South Hilo station of the Hilo (Hawaii) Police Force. She’s a natural born cop, addicted to the rush of adrenalin she gets with the job, but she is also impulsive and given to acting without her partner or permission. She comes with a lot of emotional baggage: a mother who overdosed, a father in jail for dealing, and a stepfather who sexually abused her, leaving her shy of commitment and possibly unable to love—Damaged Goods.

When Lei and her partner catch a call reporting a dead girl, Lei is drawn to the dead girl and wants to be allowed to help work the case, but she is a mere uniformed officer, so she is left to put up the crime scene tape and look for clues in the surrounding area. After a several more killings, including Lei’s best friend, the police realize they have a serial killer on their hands. Lieutenant Michael Stevens, a new hire from Los Angeles, is the lead detective. Lei begs to be involved in the case, but he brushes her off with the casual suggestion that there may be something for her to do. When Lei receives an anonymous note threatening that she will be next victim, she becomes more than casually involved. Then the murderer captures her, and she is forced to use everything she has in a fight for her life.

Believe me, you won’t see the identity of the killer coming.

Neal’s characters are engaging, her plot is clever, the setting is just exotic enough to intrigue, and the sexual tension that develops between Lei and Stevenson make for a good read, and the relentless pace makes it a book you won’t want to put down. It’s a good thing it’s a part of a series.
Profile Image for G.A..
Author 2 books30 followers
August 25, 2016
From the very beginning to the very end, I was submersed in the world, the characters and the plot of Blood Orchids. I don't generally read books which use sexual abuse or rape as a backdrop, but by the time I realized such would be a central theme, seeing how the main character, Lei, would deal with her own dark and buried past as she wades through the case of two young girls who have been drugged, raped and left to drown had me hooked.

Author Toby Neal pulls very few punches, if any, using her own expertise in psychology and Hawaiian life to not only put you in Hilo, where the story takes place, but inside the head of Lei. You hope all the way through that Lei will not succumb to either the outside forces that would see her dead, or the demons within propelling her toward a life of loneliness at best, self-destruction at worst.

I found myself suspecting everyone, trusting no one, including characters where little suspicion could be placed. I did manage to guess who the main villain was, but that in and of itself was not the sole purpose for this thriller. It might be the vehicle, the means for turning the pages, but Blood Orchids is as much a personal journey for one who has been labeled "Damaged Goods" as it is a story about the police vs. a serial rapist/killer.

I liked the idea that the story didn't just end when most would, but continued, answering a few more questions. When it did end, it was satisfying, while leaving room for more in any subsequent books.
Profile Image for Gail Baugniet.
Author 11 books177 followers
January 12, 2012
Blood Orchids is set on the Big Island of Hawaii with much of the action occurring around the eastern town of Hilo. Lei Teixera, on the police force for three years, has aspirations of moving up from policewoman to police detective. But her past threatens to undermine this goal.

While on patrol checking for vandalism, Lei and her partner find the bodies of two murdered teenage girls in the muddy overgrown area of a park. She wants in on the investigation. When the lead detective says the case requires experienced detectives, her determination to get the assignment only escalates.

Crime-Mystery lovers who want a female protagonist to take them for a roller coaster ride through a plot strewn with believable action-packed drama that maintains a realistic, steady pace right up to a satisfying conclusion, Blood Orchids delivers.

Along with the sights, sounds and fragrances of Hawaii, author Toby Neal treats readers to the use of local pidgin, a language first developed and used as a means of communication on the sugar plantations by the people of Hawaii, China, Portugal, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.

The novel also offers an in-depth psychological study that unfolds as the story progresses and can only be fully appreciated by reading Neal’s novel, Blood Orchids.

Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 9 books495 followers
October 24, 2014
This is a tough, exciting, complex crime story: a female cop struggling with her department and her past, multiple crimes, perhaps related. Definitely a good read, especially for a debut novel.
Profile Image for Sandra  Valente.
173 reviews33 followers
March 7, 2012
3 1/2 stars.

This is a book I hadn't heard of and again, it's all thanks to seeing who was tweeting what. I peeked in at the right time. What first caught my attention, was the name of the book and then of course the cover. I loved them both. Curiosity had me clicking on the link and downloading the book, simultaneously mentioning it to a few friends. It was free over the weekend and I thought why not? Needless to say, they too downloaded Blood Orchids from Amazon. I wonder what their take will be on this story.

Here's mine. The story is set in Hawaii where Ms. Neal was raised. I've ever only been there in my dreams and now via this book.

The main character is Leilani or Lei Teixeira who has had somewhat of a brutal past and still bears the scars, figuratively speaking. Due to this past she's become a cop working and residing in a sleepy town called Hilo. Out and about on rounds with her partner, Pono, they discover the bodies of two young girls in the water, one of whom Lei had previously busted for drugs. The discovery is called in by Pono and Michael Stevens enters the picture. Lei has only been on the force for three years but has aspirations of making detective and is quite adamant that's she's involved, however minor, regarding anything to do with this case. I'm not going to give any spoilers away, although you might probably read them elsewhere, but will continue to say that she manages to become a part of this investigation and even has the nerve to take the initiative on occasion. This doesn't normally bode well with those in charge and Michael let's her know in a subtle way. During this investigation, Lei starts receiving notes from a stalker. At first, its presumed that both the murders and notes are carried out by the same perpetrator but it's eventually decided that they are separate. The story takes you in different directions including different perps and to be honest, kept me changing my mind over and over again. To further add to Lei's mental anguish, not only is her friend Mary murdered but a third element is added towards the end of the book. Just when I thought it was all over and this was the part where the spark/romance between Lei and Michael would develop even further, something else happens.

Lei is quite an interesting character who at times made me angry. Being raped at age 9 by her mother's boyfriend, losing her father to prison for drug dealing and her mother to an overdose is not what any child should have to go through - EVER. In saying this and in all fairness, I feel for Lei and sympathise with her struggles and daily battles. The author continuously let's us know what's going on in Lei's mind. I found myself clenching my jaw or systemically doing breathing exercises along with her to calm myself down. There were times though that I found Lei to be rude, especially to Michael for no reason at all. Yes, she still struggles with the past, who wouldn't having gone through that horror, but there are people who care and want to help and sometimes you need to take them at face value. Lei always seems to sense that something is wrong with someone, so why not use the same gut feeling to sense what's right? Also, Michael's had a bad past too, yet he seems to have overcome his struggles better than she has. Everyone's different I suppose and coping mechanisms differ. With this said, I liked Lei including all her turmoil and angst. Despite being 'rude' to people at times, she was one gutsy kick ass lady, that's for sure, and what I admired about her was her tenacity in solving the girls' murders.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters including Pono, her partner, who cares for her and made me laugh a couple of times. I also liked Michael a lot. He's just an all round good guy who has the patience of a saint where Lei is concerned. I suppose accepting help on Lei's part can be hard when trust is not easily given. I loved Dr. Wilson and would sit on her couch any day - she'd sort me out in no time! As for Keiki, the Rottweiler, I want her, now! Adorable.

This book is full of mystery and quite a bit of action, and I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. Another aspect that I liked was the POV of one of the perp's. Always adds something extra to the story providing us with the suspense needed, and at the same time making us wonder when what he says he's going to do, is carried out. There were one or two inconsistencies making me go back to re-read a certain sentence or paragraph thereby stopping the story's flow. These type of things irk me, however, they are minuscule and in no way detract from the book.

A good debut by this author who kept me interested throughout the story. I wonder what lays ahead for Lei.
Profile Image for Avery Teoda.
Author 1 book7 followers
May 17, 2012
Crime/mystery novels aren't my "preferred genre," if you will, but I read a fair number of them as a teenager and decided to give it a go after reading the summary. I'm glad I did, because it's one of the more enjoyable books I've read in a while.

Lei is an engaging, sympathetic heroine--and it's really not often that I say that. Lei has been through a lot in her life and it's taken an emotional toll on her. I'm thrilled to see such a realistic and thoughtful portrayal of someone who obviously suffers from terrible PTSD. The reader never forgets that Lei is a damaged person, as well they should not; it's certain that she never forgets. Lei has moments of deep, heartbreaking humanity as events in the past and the present weigh on her. Despite this, she is pretty self aware, a trait sadly lacking in a lot of novel heroines. I rooted for her from start to finish. She's not the typical Broken Bird and I'm so glad for that. You have no idea how much that trope infuriates me.

Lei isn't the only damaged person in the novel, though. Almost everyone Lei encounters has suffered and Toby Neal pulls few emotional punches when it comes to the portrayal of this damage. There was one moment in particular that I felt was curiously absent of expected emotional description, however, . For such a heavy moment, it seemed the author shied away from digging into the characters' emotional reactions.

I enjoyed the romantic development between Lei and Stevens. I was really happy to see that they didn't just jump into it, flying in the face of police department rules and emotional turmoil. I especially appreciated the fact that they're was mature enough to take their relationship slowly. One scene toward the end was the best, most mature "relationship talk" I've ever read in a novel. I really appreciated that Stevens called Lei on her bad behavior--in a relatively sensitive way, even. Overall, these two are deserving of one another's affection and that's certainly more than I can say for a lot of romantic pairs in novels.

The plot was refreshingly atypical. The pattern I've noticed in crime stories is too obvious red herring + actual murderer. While the police chase the red herring, who the reader knows is obviously the wrong guy, the real killer sows destruction. The reader can tell what's going to happen a mile away. In Blood Orchids, I was honestly stumped about which of the several suspects could be the real killer until the author meant for me to figure it out. This aspect of plot was handled quite well.

My one criticism is that the novel tries to handle too many things at once. . Granted, these plot threads were all connected in a way that made sense--my criticism is mainly that the main plot culminated at about the 3/4 mark and the other, unrelated subplots continued in what should have been the denouement. The subplots were interesting enough to deserve their own stories and I feel like they were underserved by playing second fiddle to the equally interesting main plot. I hope that the subplots continue to make appearances in the series, because they've got me curious.

All that said, I consider that criticism fairly minor. Despite the crowdedness (that's totally a word because I just made it up) of the last third of the novel, everything made sense and nothing had me gritting my teeth in frustration. The strengths of the novel far outweighed these shaky points. I enjoyed the story, but most of all I enjoyed reading about Lei.
81 reviews14 followers
August 25, 2013
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed for TwoLips Reviews LLC
4 1/2 kisses, 1/2 pepper implied rape, implied romance

Leilani Texeira has had to overcome a lot of obstacles from her past, but she persevered and is a cop on the Hilo Police Department. While she is on patrol, Lei finds two dead teenage girls who appear to have been murdered. And one of the girls, Lei recently busted for drugs. Lei wants to solve this case and becomes obsessed with finding justice for the girls. Lei's friend Mary has also been kidnapped and murdered. Are the two related or separate cases?

Lei is also being stalked. But among all this, Lei feels herself falling for Michael Stevens who has been helping with the case. The killer is closing in and closer than Lei can imagine, but she is determined to solve it. Will Lei be able to catch the killer before the killer catches her?

I normally don't read murder/suspense books; I just don't like graphic details that would make me shudder. I was very leery of starting Blood Orchids, but I quickly found out it wasn't what I expected. Blood Orchids, the first Lei Crime Novel in a series by Toby Neal knocked my socks off. When I wasn't reading the book, I couldn't wait to get back to it—I was that caught up in the story. Ms. Neal’s descriptive writing kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen next.

All of the characters were very three dimensional and so well written that I felt like I was part of the book. Lei was a great heroine, strong willed and determined, but also with a vulnerable side that was believable. I really admired Lei's strength and liked that she wasn't a whiny, self-centered person. Michael was a little bit more of a secret. He had his own skeletons in his closet to overcome. I would have liked just a little bit more insight to Michael.

The killer was very slick and well prepared to keep his identity a secret. Ms. Neal’s ability to create characters for the reader to place suspicion on is fantastic. I was very surprised when the killer was revealed; I never would have guessed who it was. The story flowed well and takes the reader on a wild ride of emotions, twists, turns, and lots of surprises. Blood Orchids is a debut novel for Ms. Neal and it is magnificent. I encourage everyone to read it.
Profile Image for Douglas Cook.
Author 10 books7 followers
May 12, 2013
What a great series! Glad I ran across it. I like ballsy female detectives. It also makes me want to move Hawaii to the top of my bucket list.

First paragraphs
Chapter 1 Drowning isn’t pretty, even in paradise. The girl’s features were bloated by water and nibbled on by wildlife. She lay half embedded in silty mud, naked as a seal carcass. Long hair that might have been blonde wrapped around her like seaweed, one sparkly hair tie still in place on the side of her head. Leilani Texeira grimaced at the sulphurous smell of the mud as she stepped into it, shiny regulation shoes disappearing, and squatted to inspect the body. After three years on the force in Hawaii she’d seen several drowned corpses, and had learned to stay detached as she looked for any signs of violence. Still, she was thankful for the small mercy of the girl’s closed eyes. Her partner Pono’s voice was a bass drone interspersed with static as he called in the discovery on the radio. Lei stayed on her haunches, her eyes slowly surveying the entire overgrown area of the small county park. Invasive christmasberry bushes and clumps of tall pili grass competed along the unkempt banks. Midmorning sun leached reluctantly from under cloud cover as she spotted what looked like a bobbing coconut a few yards out. Lei glanced around—no palm trees ringed the pond. She pushed her pant legs up and splashed forward into murky water warm as blood, clots of yellowish algae dotting the surface. “Hey!” Pono called. “What the hell are you doing?”

Neal, Toby (2011-11-27). Blood Orchids (The Lei Crime Series) (pp. 7-8). . Kindle Edition.
Profile Image for Noelle Pierce.
Author 7 books32 followers
December 18, 2011
This was a well-written, perfectly-paced book, steeped in Hawaiian culture. Ms. Neal does a good job balancing the paradise aspect of the islands, with the seedy side normally unseen by tourists.

Leilani Texeira has some major demons from her past, which come back to haunt her in the first of this suspense series. In fact, there's concern that she'll be able to do her job because one of her coping mechanisms when dealing with any sort of triggers is dissociation. The book opens with the discovery of two murdered teenage girls, and Lei manages to get involved in the investigation of a serial rapist who seems to have escalated to murder (even though Lei's a patrol officer). There's enough foreshadowing to keep us interested, and she leaves us clues to the serial rapist's/murderer's identity, but they aren't obvious on the first read. Looking back, I smacked my forehead more than once at not seeing the clues.

I originally wrote down a couple of things I didn't like, but the first one was isolated to the first third to quarter of the book and, in the grand scheme of things, not worth mentioning. The second was the speed of the romance subplot, especially given Lei's traumatic past. Granted, my normal reading fare is genre romance, so I tend to want the love interest to develop as a larger part of the story. Since this isn't a romance, I can't fault Ms. Neal for that aspect, but I still think it progressed too quickly.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the suspense genre, a unique setting, and a strong (but flawed) female protagonist.
Profile Image for Marilou George.
186 reviews53 followers
April 15, 2012
Lei Texeira has stumbled upon two bodies floating in the water in Hilo, Hawaii. Lei is a police officer trying to work her way up to detective and knowing one of the victims she feels compelled to help with the investigation. Michael Stevens a detective from California is leading the investigation and enlists Lei to help.

The character of Lei is slowly revealed throughout the story and I felt such empathy for her and the horrific struggles she went thru as a child. She is a feisty, complicated and tortured woman who wrestles with her demons and does her job with determination.

Detective Michael Stevens is a straightforward detective who has lived through some childhood trauma of his own. His relationship with Lei takes a personal turn and he becomes very protective of her.

Toby Neal’s colorful descriptions of the lush landscape of Hawaii made me feel as if I was there. The attention to detail of the diverse vegetation and volcanoes painted a beautiful backdrop to this story. I appreciated that the characters used a Hawaiian dialect defined as pidgin which made for interesting dialogue.

The character of Lei was extremely multi-layered and complex and brought to life with compassion and fervor. The mystery is packed with tension, fast paced and held me enthralled while driving me forward.

I definitely recommend this book to all readers, you will not be disappointed!
Profile Image for Jean Cogdell.
Author 9 books15 followers
June 20, 2012
In March, I added Blood Orchids By Toby Neal to my Kindle as a free download. Last week, sitting at DFW airport waiting to begin a long weekend vacation, I tabbed through my Kindle in search of something to read. I’d even forgotten what this book was about. What a wonderful surprise.

I found myself vacillating between writer and reader. The writer in me wanted to savor the imagery, taking note of the pace, and captivating story that drew me in with beautiful writing of a gruesome crime. The reader/consumer in me wanted to read faster as at every turn the author kept me on my toes, caring for the characters and guessing until the very end. I really enjoyed this book and give Toby Neal 5 stars for Blood Orchids. Crime, suspense, romance, Blood Orchids has a little bit of it all to keep you on the edge. http://jeans-ereading.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Lauri.
400 reviews92 followers
July 29, 2019
An almost diabolically twisty psychological thriller set against the rugged beauty of Hawaii's Big Island. Officer Lei Teixeira is a victim of childhood abuse, but managed to overcome her trauma to become a police officer with the Hilo Police Department. Now someone is kidnapping young girls, horrifically torturing them, raping them & murdering them in and around Hilo town. This normally peaceful & quiet little town is turned upside down by the crimes and somehow, despite all her precautions, Lei has not one, but TWO stalkers! Could they be the perpetrators?

Ms. Neal does a great job portraying local culture and the dynamics of Hilo life. This one kept me guessing right up till the end!
Profile Image for Iris.
14 reviews1 follower
May 25, 2014
Lei Texeira is an aspiring detective in Hilo. Lei finds a gruesome crime scene and there follows an intriguing plot, where she is stalked in a very frightening way. Dealing with the aftermath of her own childhood abuse creates it's own problems for Lei who is determined to become a success in her chosen career. Lei's closest, uncomplicated relationship, is with her Rottwieler, Keiki, whom she loves dearly and trusts completely. Humans prove to be more of a challenge.

A gripping tale with many facets to it. Look forward to reading more of the series.
Profile Image for Kimba Tichenor.
Author 1 book111 followers
May 15, 2017
I would give this book a 3.5. It is fast paced; the characters are for the most part believable, and the author creates a strong sense of place. My one objection is that the main character, a young female police officer, is caught up in one too many crises and as a result, some of the believability of the plot line is lost, as it just seems like too much.

This was the first book that I have read by this author, and based on this book (I believe the author's first), I would definitely read another in this series.
Profile Image for Debbie "Buried in Her TBR Pile".
1,901 reviews245 followers
September 15, 2020
3.5 stars

I liked this one and I am still processing it. Lei, the h, is strong and trying to overcome sexual abuse by her stepfather. She has problems letting people close but is a good cop. She has a great guard dog too.

I'm waffling on 4 stars because of the action towards the end - Lei is kicka$$! While there is a romance element to this one, it is a no go because of her past. The Audible version has 3 chapters of book 2 and I want to read/listen to it. So still waffling on rating, but not disappointed in the read/listen.
Profile Image for J.L. Campbell.
Author 89 books241 followers
April 3, 2012
Lei Texeira is on patrol with her partner when they discover the bodies of two teenagers. Lei is familiar with one of them from a previous run-in and indentifies with the murdered girl. As the case unfolds, Lei's past comes into play. Someone who knows her early history is stalking her. And as if her life isn't complicated enough, she's about to fall in love and has no idea how to handle the complexities of a relationship.

Lei Texeira is a feisty police officer, with ambitions of making detective. She has unresolved issues, which comes out in the way she deals with her security and relationships.

Michael Stevens is a no-nonsense detective, who also has his own familial difficulties. He's good at his job and cares for Lei, though she tries to keep him at a distance. I admire Michael's persistence and protectiveness.

I liked the pacing of the story, as well as the red herrings that kept me guessing. Lei's character is well developed and I identified with her struggles, bearing her past in mind.

This was my first trip to Hawaii via fiction, and Tobi Neal made it a good visit. The descriptions are vivid and engaging, which gives a real sense of the place. The pidgin English is something else that keeps things real and in some ways reminds me of Patois.

I could have lived without visualizing what Lei did to the man who dared to abduct her. Smart thinking on her part, but I'm still having phantom pains over it.

OVERALL COMMENTS: I'd seen the book around a few times, but downloaded a sample after reading a review on another blog. Blood Orchids is the kind of stuff I like to read, so once the sample grabbed me, I gave in.

I'm not sure there's anything in there to explain why the bad guy is the way he is, but being curious by nature, I wonder what sent him down that road. The story feels as though it has two high points, with another matter resolved after the main event. The ending is realistic in that Lei doesn't launch wholeheartedly into the romance with Michael.

I think the cover is fitting. The red orchid against the black background in my mind symbolizes beauty juxtaposed against death. The criminal in the novel--as is the case with the delusional--sees himself as someone who appreciates beauty, both in nature and in women. Lei also has a love for Orchids.

If you like crime fiction with an interesting backdrop and intriguing characters, you'll like Blood Orchids. My rating is 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Angela Holtz.
489 reviews7 followers
February 22, 2012
From Lilac Wolf and Stuff

**This book was sent to me by BookSparksPR to review**

I had a hard time getting into this one. The starting scene is intense, but Lei can be up and down and all around at times. This carries through the story but as you get to know her, it starts to make sense. Once I got going, I was sucked in.

The characters are all well written, and you do come to care about Lei. With this being a mystery I want to be happy for her, but I keep my mind around who might be the bad guy. Lei is being stalked by the serial killer. Is it her neighbor, her partner (probably not) or one of the 2 detectives on the murder? Might not be any of those either - I'm not telling! LOL

There were a few times the writing was inconsistent. Like a guy with a Hawaiian first name and Smith as a last name. The biggest one for me was when the bartender says the missing girl was in the previous day, then out in the parking lot Lei says she wonders when the girl went missing. Ummmm, I'm guessing sometime after she ordered her food that she never came back for??? Like yesterday afternoon??? Come on Lei, you can do better than that! ;)

This only happens a little, but you know how that can detract from a story.

So while it was very suspenseful, engaging and easy to understand the culture it takes place in, I have to dock a star because of the inconsistencies within.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 803 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.