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Mahu Fire: A Hawai'ian Mystery

(Mahu #3)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Evil moves to paradise, as openly gay police detective Kimo Kanapa’aka battles an extreme religious group that opposes the idea of same-sex marriage. It begins with a simple shooting, but the danger intensifi es as Kimo strives to unmask a killer.

Neil S. Plakcy is the author of Mahu Surfer.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Alyson Books
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  341 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Start your review of Mahu Fire: A Hawai'ian Mystery (Mahu #3)
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A very flowing read. Once again, Plakcy did not disappoint. I like the quiet writing without the emotional manipulation which make my eyes roll.

The Kimo I saw in this book has grown more into himself than the Kimo I met in the first book. I like the growth, the strength, the understanding, the development. He is allowing himself to be what he is. But I also like that he is not pushy. He accepts himself and those around him for what they are. A lesson to be learnt here I think.

The story itself is
Rosa, really
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of thoughtful mysteries with a dash of romance

The Mystery

Kimo investigates fires, a bombing and murder in the gay community, which is organizing support for gay marriage.

The Romance

There is one! And it's so sweet. And despite the mustache, the guy sounds hot. Which is always nice.

The Family

Family plays a large part in this novel. I love Kimo's family. Some of them may not be totally comfortable with his sexuality. (Kimo remarks that if he brings a male friend around his family give them the side eye, seeming to wonder what they "do" togethe
Neil Plakcy
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Mahu Fire was the second mystery I wrote-- though before it was published I realized I needed to write Mahu Surfer.

I hope that I learned a lot about writing and pacing in the course of writing this book. Originally it was written in the third person, and included scenes from the villains' perspective-- but my editor convinced me that I should focus on Kimo, so I spent hours at Starbucks revising on a tight schedule.

I love the fireworks that occur when Kimo meets sexy fire investigator Mike Ricc
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't like this quite as much as the first two which were automatic 5*s. It was more tell than show (though the fire scenes were tremendous) and to be honest reading about fundamentalist homophobes is not the greatest fun.
Also in this Mike was a very well-established character and likable but a bit dull, though their love shows great promise.
However all the other great things of Placzy's writing are there so I'm gonna read the next and then a shortish break while my wallet recovers.
I'll rate
I wasn't very taken with the first two Mahu books, but I guess there is a reason for the term "Third time's the charm".

Mahu Fire interests me quicky with both the case (which, like my friend points out that it is more of a social issue rather than simple crime) and the characters. I'm warming up to Kimo now, the moment that the book opens with him volunteering at Gay Teen Center and later on helping a gay teenager who is being kicked out by his family. I fall more in love with Tommy's family, m
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
After finishing the second book of the Mahu series, Mahu Surfer, I couldn't wait to read this third one. By the end of the second book, I'd fallen quite in love with the world of homicide detective Kimo Kanapa'aka, although I wasn't sure how much I would love the main character. In this third on, Mahu Fire, Kimo returns to investigate a series of related crimes involving gay bashing and fire. He took a personal interest in the investigation because he, his friends and family almost became victim ...more
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Person A: Knock, knock.
Person B: Who’s there?
Person A: Me-ma.
Person B: Me Mahu.
Person A: Oh, you mahu? No touch me!

This kind of dumb joke was typical for schoolyards in Hawaii, where I grew up.

The term Mahu has been used in Hawaii as long as I can remember to describe a homosexual male. A mahu also usually dresses like a woman (basically a tranny). And mahus were sometimes prostitutes as well. So when the Minneapolis Public Library suggested this book on its home page, I admit I was puzzled and
This series can be frustrating. Do I enjoy them? Yes and no. It's a fun story where I don't have to think for very much, but at the same time, the writing can be cheesy and the twists are always fairly obvious - though to be fair, sometimes I feel like I'm watching Showgirls or Mommy Dearest with all of the high melodrama, and I can't help but laugh.

This is the third book in the Mahu series, and like the others before it, Plakcy looks to have his character face another facet of gay identity. In
4.5 stars

Kimo back on the job and his family and friends were the things the previous book was missing, especially since family and friends make such a big part of Kimo's character. It was also great to see Kimo growing as a gay man and helping the gay teenagers. I like how he tried to teach them important things by using himself as an example. His relationship with Johnny and his attempts to help the boy showed just how big a heart Kimo has. Another plus was the fact that Kimo wasn't following
A.J. Llewellyn
Jan 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own-a-copy
I like Kimo very much but his family life continues to be more appealing than his tepid romance or his unconvincing police work. Hard to believe one cop could be assigned a huge investigation involving multiple arsons and homicides.
I'm continually surprised at the lack of mystery to Kimo's mysteries...or the authenticity of the islands. Once again, I was staggered at the plot problems in this and did send the author an email listing them. The little boy's age keeps changing for one thing. A majo
Ije the Devourer of Books
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the first two books in this series and so it isn't a surprise to find that I like this one as well. First of all I love the way each book transports me to Hawaii and to the sun, the sand, sea, and surf. When I read these books I can feel the heat of Hawaii on my skin and I feel that I am there in the hustle and bustle that can be found on Oahu. But it isnt just the island that I am drawn into. I am also pulled into mystery, family life, emerging love, work place politics and the ...more
Very good

4.25 ⭐️


This series feels like it’s hit it’s groove with this one. I found it the best so far and it didn’t take me long to get invested in the story and characters.

I liked that Kimo struggles with his identity as the “gay cop” and wants to be known for more than that. I also really liked that he gives back to the lgbt kids at the community centre.

The story was engaging and the introduction of Mike was fantastic. It’s nice to see Kimo really interested in someone, not just sex.

Lois - Who Reads
Kimo has found a possible romantic partner! And he is a hot fireman!

When there is a bombing at an event in support of gay marriage, Kimo is quickly caught up in the mystery. His parents, brothers, and sister-in-laws are in attendance and Kimo takes the bombing personally because of that. Because of the bombing Kimo meets Mike, a fireman who is on the scene as part of the investigation, and they just click.

Kimo is really coming into his own and learning to live out of the closet and be honest a
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing, Well Balanced Mystery

Kimo has a new love interest, a firefighter . This time it looks like the real thing. The dynamics of their relationship is the heart and soul of this story, and the reader can't help but root for Kimo to have found his soul mate. He is also faced with murders, bombings and a church that doesn't seem to be on the up and up.
Once again, Mr. Plakcy has given his readers an intriguing, well balanced mystery, interspersed with the main character growing comfortable
Nancy Silk
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Very Well Written And Thought Provoking"

This is the 3d book of the series and the first book I've read by this author. This is a gay story of Kimo Kanapa's learning that he is gay, accepting himself and getting busy solving crimes as a detective in Hawaii. The author has done an amazing job sharing life experiences of his main character. I'm so thankful I've read this realistic story of inequality.
Lisa Pett
I wasn’t much of a mystery reader but I read Mahu and enjoyed the coming-out tale mixed with a cultural police mystery and LOVED Mahu Surfer, which hooked me on the series.

I liked that Kimo continues to develop as a character and is finding true romance as well.

I enjoy the setting and these are fun reads.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mahu Fire is the third volume of this terrific mystery series by Neil Plakcy. The series two main characters, Kimo Kanapa'aka, a Honolulu homicide detective, and Mike Riccardi, a fire investigator, are both particularly likable. The character development throughout the series including Kimo’s family and their friends, continues to fascinate.

Having said that, Mahu Fire ventures into areas of rough sex, physical and psychological abuse, and truly extreme prejudice beyond anything in either of the
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book.

I just finished this page turner! Well written, great story telling! T like the twist and turns that the writer has done to keep me engage in the story! Well done!
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Kimo's family interactions.
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Non-Bigots who like mysteries, Hawaii, good stories, uplifting reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 21, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: win
I won a copy of this book from a mystery book website. It was a random book draw and did not have any idea of what the content of this particular book was until I received it. It is not the usual type of material that I would choose to read, but sounded interesting enough. Being a straight woman, I wasn't intimidated by the subject matter, in fact I was interested to read a mystery from another perspective. I do hope that this example is not representive of this genre. I found the book to be com ...more
Nov 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Kimo Kanapa’aka is a detective working a murder investigation and a series of arsons targeting GLBT owned businesses on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. When he and his family attend a fundraiser for gay marriage proponents that is firebombed, he is the perfect candidate to lead the bombing investigation because he is gay and has the support of the gay community, not to mention his personal motives: whoever bombed the fundraiser put his family at risk of life and limb, and you don’t screw with a Ha ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: m-m-cop
This was the second book in the series that I've read. (I skipped #2 and went directly on to #3.) I don't think I'm going to read much more in this series. It really doesn't exhibit a lot of good writing.

The author just doesn't have much originality. This story is a total rehash of some very tired and trite concepts. The whole idea of gay-bashing fundamentalist Christians out to undermine gay marriage is so over-told!

There was way way way too much detail in this book. What became really bothers
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
I found this mystery to be on the weak side. It was pretty obvious from the start who the "sweaty guy" was and it took Kimo - who is good with faces - way too long to place him. But once he did, well, he still needed evidence before he could do anything, lol! Ain't reality a downer? ;) But, no. That's one of the things I like about these books. Even when it takes our MC awhile to catch up, there's still procedure to follow through with, paperwork to fill out, warrants to attain. The ending was a ...more
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, gay, erotic
In the third Mahu installment, Kimo finally meets someone he can have a real relationship with! Yes, I'm excited for him!

While at a fundraiser for Hawaiian Gay Marriage, a bomb goes off and sets the building on fire. Kimo and his friends and family are all there but make it safely out. The only casualty is the Vice-Mayor, which puts this case on the hot-plate, so to speak. Fire Investigator Mike Riccardi (hot, hot, hot) arrives shortly thereafter and together with Kimo, investigates the trail of
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, police, m-m
This is the third in the series, and the first book that has a gay related crime. Kimo is back in Honolulu working alone, no one wants to be his partner and he is coming to terms with becoming a "gay" cop. I think this element is very well written and shows him working well in a fairly hostile workplace. He has some colleagues who treat him the same as before and his boss seems to be decent and understanding, but the subtle and not-so-subtle snubs are written and I don't think I would handle thi ...more
Nov 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My third Mahu book, and perhaps the easiest to read - not sure if I am just more aware of the Hawai'ian references now, the main characters are entrenched so I dont have to keep thinking who it is or it is just more streamlined. Pacy read, enjoyable.
The investigation into fires targetted at lesbian and gay businesses means that Kimo crosses paths with fire investigator Mike - I enjoyed the who and whys of the investigation.
The relationship between Mike and Kimo is quite new and it was nice to s
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, e-books, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was a good story. I got through it pretty quickly. I liked the previous book in the series just a tiny bit better because it had me guessing right up until the end. This one was more of a monologue explanation of how the pieces fell together at the end and I've always preferred to experience it with the characters instead of just hearing a big old explanation at the end. That's a personal preference and not anything wrong on the author's side of things, though. Still a great series. I also ...more
Feb 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
This was a dreadful book. I picked it off the shelf because it was a mystery featuring a gay Honolulu detective and I thought, "That could be an interesting character." I was wrong. Told in the first-person, the detective tells us of the struggles he's forced to undergo as a gay man, but there is no emotional depth to his narrative. Nor to any of the characters. The quality of the prose is at the level of high-school writing class.

In short, everything about the book is amateurish and hamhanded.
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I have been a voracious reader all my life, mostly in mystery, romance, and science fiction/fantasy, though a college degree in English did push a lot of literary works into my list of favorites.

I began writing seriously in high school after an inspiring assignment with A Separate Peace by John Knowles. But it took getting an MFA in creative writing to kick-start my career.

Since then I've written

Other books in the series

Mahu (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Mahu (Mahu #1)
  • Mahu Surfer (Mahu #2)
  • Mahu Vice (Mahu, #4)
  • Mahu Blood (Mahu, #5)
  • Zero Break (Mahu, #6)
  • Natural Predators (Mahu, #7)
  • Accidental Contact and Other Mahu Investigations (Mahu, #8)
  • Children of Noah (Mahu #9)
  • Ghost Ship (Mahu, #10)
  • Deadly Labors (Mahu #11)

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