Sandra Valente's Reviews > Blood Orchids

Blood Orchids by Toby Neal
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Mar 07, 2012

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bookshelves: have-read, mystery-thriller, 2012
Read on March 07, 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.
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