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The Fire Thief

(Dark Paradise Mystery #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The scenery may be beautiful, but dangerous secrets are buried beneath paradise in this first thriller featuring Maui detective Kali Māhoe.

Under a promising morning sky, police captain Walter Alaka'i makes a tragic discovery: the body of a teenage surfer bobbing among the lava rocks of Maui's southeastern shore. It appears to be an ill-fated accident, but closer inspect
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published May 26th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
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Linda Strong
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it

Kali Mahoe is the niece of the Police Captain and the grand-daughter of one of Hawaii's most respected spiritual leader. Now that her grandmother has passed, she has become the new kahu .. rooted in legends and healing. And she is also a Detective with local law enforcement.

When the Police Captain finds the body of a young surfer boy floating on Maui's shore. At first thought, this was an accidental drowning ... except there's no water in his lungs, he has a huge gash in his head, and i
Mar 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Fire Thief by Debra Bokur is the first book in the police procedural Dark Paradise Mystery series. While this mystery series has character development that carries over from book to book for those wanting to follow the entire series the cases involved are solved within so they could be read as a standalone if choosing to do so.

When the police captain, Walter Alaka’i, finds the body of a young teenage surfer he firsts suspects that the death is a surfing accident. However it begins to become
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa-dfgh, myst-police
Under the wonderful atmosphere of Maui's setting, a Detective discovers the body of a young man in an apparent accidental drowning. Even Native Hawaiians can have surfing accidents as the Hawaiian Gods are fickle.
Except, it becomes almost immediately, this is a strange accident or possibly much worse. But who in the world would murder a smart college-bound young man? There is nothing that shows a reason. Except the Hawaiian Gods appear to be angry. There are ghostly spirits lurking and Hawaiian
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this on audiobook. The narrator was average. Her voice for male characters was laughably bad. This was a solid book. I enjoyed the Hawaiian setting, culture, and folklore that is the major component of the novel. It’s something different for a change so I appreciated it. The mystery isn’t all that exciting, it takes a backseat to character development and all things Hawaiian. That’s the major appeal of the novel. The author did their homework to make it seem as authentic as possibl ...more
Stewart Tame
Full disclosure: I won a free ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

The cover says this will be on sale in late May of 2020. I received it in late July or early August--don't exactly recall since I was finishing another book at the time. So it's not exactly Advanced. Then again, with the pandemic messing with release schedules and mail delivery, who knows if/when it's available in stores … if they're even open. If it's not currently available, it probably will be soon.

This is billed as “A Da
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
I enjoyed the first book in what I hope to be an ongoing series. Kali Mahoe is not only a detective with the Maui police but studying to be a kahu, a spiritual leader. The Hawaiian heritage and history really shines and is quite fascinating. I loved reading the myths and legends.

The mystery started with the discovery of a teen-age surfer. At first thought to be a surfing accident, a head gash with a shark's tooth embedded in it led to the conclusion it was murder. Walter Alaka'i is ca
Debbie Maskus
Nov 22, 2020 rated it liked it
The Fire Thief displays Hawaiian culture and interlaces Hawaiian language within the story. Debra Bokur artfully introduces Hawaiian phrases into the story. Detective Kali Mahoe, a Hawaiian spiritual leader, is a tattooed warrior. She aids the Police Captain, Walter Alaka’e in investigating crimes on the island and in determining what type of crime has been committed. The story begins with a death of a young surfer, and the stealing of solar panels on the island. Picturesque Hawaii is not Eden. ...more
Jul 27, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is a cross between a police procedural and a cozy mystery. It is supposed to be at least; however, it works better as an immersive experience of Hawaiian culture. It has a dual person narrative which could have been tapered to a single person if the focus was only on the mystery, but that is where this book differs.
One of the narrations, the smaller part, is done by Walter. He is an older member of the community as well as law enforcement. It's through his eyes that we see the changes
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you, Kensington Books and NetGalley for this arc.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. A young man was found dead that everyone thinks was an accident until detective Kali Māhoe was summoned by her uncle and came upon a conclusion of this being like sinister killing. As she began to investigate further, she will have to deal with her history and the many legends the islands have before more killings happen.

This book shows many Hawaii history that I haven’t heard of, so I was excited about that. I a
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An engrossing and entertaining story with a great MC and a fascinating plot.
I loved the well thought characters, the plot that flows, the lore and history of Hawaii.
The mystery was solid and kept me guessing.
It was an intriguing read and I can't wait to read other stories in this series.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Could there be evidence of a ritual murder? Mahoe knows what a nightmare that could be. She holds a degree in cultural anthropology and prides herself on her deductive skills, but she is also the granddaughter of one of Hawaii’s most respected spiritual leaders, and on the path to becoming a kahu — a healer — herself. She knows how strong the old beliefs are — and how they can complicate a case.

Read our full review here:
May 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
The mystery is secondary to the place setting, culture and lore of Hawaii. I enjoyed it for those aspects. I liked the main characters and will read the next book in the series.
Jennifer Haley
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Fun little mystery set in Hawaii. It seemed like a stretch to connect the murder and the thefts at first but it eventually got there. I liked all the history and the characters and can’t wait to read more.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like this book was an okay read not a real page-turner. There were a few things I found to be a little bit lacking(her relationship) and one particular occurrence that I would have totally written differently (cat). I think the author does show promise for future novels to be much better. I might have considered putting a small glossary at the back of the book with correct pronunciation for some of the names and terminology with brief description.
Anne, Unfinished Woman
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Listened to audiobook - actual rating 2.75/5 🌟 this book was very underwhelming. I was hoping for some great police procedural but it fell short. If you are looking for a lot of Hawaiian culture and a sprinkling of a mystery this is the book for you. Nothing wrong with that but not the book I was hoping to read.
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Det. Kali Māhoe is a cultural anthropologist who decided to join the the police academy after school and work alongside her uncle, Captain Walter Alaka'i, in the Maui PD. When the body of local teenage surfer Kekipi Smith washes up on a Maui beach it is first thought to be an accident but then the police discover evidence indicating that he was killed with a ritual weapon once used by Hawaiian warriors. Because of her expertise in cultural anthropology and her own family's knowledge of spiritual ...more
Heather Manheim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm always drawn to books that bring the richness of Hawaii to life, drawing on its native beauty, culture, and traditions to create an intriguing, atmospheric setting. Bokur attempts to do this with THE FIRE THIEF, even if it feels like she's trying WAY too hard and falling far too short. Even still, the exotic Hawaiian backdrop is the best thing about this murder mystery. The characters are just not a very likable bunch. Even Kali and Walter come off as cold, crochety, and uncaring. Kali has t ...more
Aug 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I received a copy of this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

This is a murder mystery set in Hawaii, but I thought the murder mystery part was rather weak. What I did find compelling was the setting; maybe it's because I read this during the middle of the pandemic, but reading a story that takes place in Hawaii, with its descriptions of beaches and Hawaiian food and legends, was a refreshing change of pace. I liked Kali, the main character, a detective who is also a spiritual healer in Maui.
Sep 03, 2020 added it
The story starts off with finding a young man dead who's death is thought to be an accident. The story is set in Maui with the main character, Kali, a native Hawaiian woman who is police officer and a spiritual leader in her community. She works with her uncle on the police force to find out what happened to the boy. In the meantime, solar panels are being stolen off people's houses and Kali works to find out what is going on.
Kali has some personal issues she is dealing with including getting ov
Marshall Wayne Lee
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
“The Fire Theif” by Debra Bokar receives 3 stars from me. It isn’t bad, but in the end I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would going into it.

This was read by Emily Woo Zeller, and I found her reading fine. I’m not overwelmed by her reading but she’s good solid reader. She read most of it in a sort of whisper, which was actually kind of fun for a mystery.

The book and why three stars. I didn’t hate the book but I didn’t find it very mysterious. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t figure out who t
Amazing! Degreed cultural anthropologist/spiritual leader of her people/police detective Kali Mahoe works the case of a promising young man who was murdered and also the felonious thefts of solar panels by lore savvy thieves. I loved the imagery of the island lore as well as the personalities of the characters. Some nasty bits but no worse than some other ritualistic remains. Sometimes I'd get lost in the lore and have to go back to catch a thread of the investigation, but then I'm a history gee ...more
Laurel Kallenbach
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Quirky characters, Hawaiian legends, and renewable energy all rolled into one lively murder mystery set on Maui! This would make a fantastic beach read, but during the pandemic I had to make do with dreaming of Hawaii by reading THE FIRE THIEF. I loved the native-Hawaiian female detective, Kali Mahoe, who is also a cultural anthopologist. And I got a kick out of gruff-but-lovable Walter, her cop uncle, who calls in Kali to investigate the suspicious death of a teenaged surfer. The book had all t ...more
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
I was not aware of any Hawaiian historical superstitions, and saw no sign of them when on Maui.

Maui police captain, Walter Alaka’i, and his granddaughter Kali investigate strange murder of young surfer to start the story. Kali is on path of following her grandmother to becoming the next spiritual leader as knowledge-keeper of Hawaii’s traditional beliefs/ghostly superstitions. People being murdered, and grisly sacrificial evidence being left on doorstep, indicate that these old rituals might be
Taylor Zajonc
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Author Debra Bokur brings her Maui-set mystery to life with a cast of memorable characters and a flawlessly immersive setting. The central mystery propels Detective Kali Mahoe through twists and turns in a fascinating reinvention of the detective archetype. Bokur shines as she shows us how the ability to navigate and understand culture and tradition is just as important as forensic evidence. A must-read for anyone with an affinity for Hawaii and compelling mystery n ...more
Cynthia Grissinger
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting mystery. Not in the least graphic. I very much enjoyed the Hawaiian history and legends throughout the book. There was a lot of focus on weaving them into the story. Made for a very enjoyable and educational read in addition to the mystery presented.

The main characters are pure Hawaiian and in some ways very different in how they view life. In other ways they aren’t much different from people you meet everyday. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.
Sep 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thiller
Maui detective Kali Mahoe - mourning deceased fiance - investigates solar panel thefts and murder of a local teen surfer. Lots of Hawaiian lore - Kali is her village Kahu; local healer/spiritual guide, inherited from her grandmother, a PhD in Hawaiian history/lore.
The first chapter was a quick start but by the middle I was bored.
TMI of the main protagonist for a first in a series. The story wrapped too quickly, not enough mystery.
The book wasn't awful, it just needs some adjustments if the auth
Gene Desrochers
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this book quite the page turner especially in the second half. The action sequences were scintillating but would have liked to have seen more of the pathology of the killer early on. Once introduced it was fascinating but perhaps that’s just me wanting more darkness in dark paradise! Bokur has a smooth, easy style that carries you along for Kali’s ride through Hawaii. Loved the relationship with her dog and the local feel. Could have used a little more action for my taste. Otherwise a wo ...more
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