Blood Orchids by Toby Neal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Blood Orchids is the story of Lei Texeira, a young female police officer trying to make detective. Nothing much happens in Hilo, so when two teens are found murdered, the police force struggles to investigate the case. Lei begs to be put on the team, but when she's finally assigned to the case, she soon finds that the case is triggering long-buried memories of her tumultuous past. There's also a stalker leaving frightening notes on her doorstep, and the complication of falling in love with the lead detective, Michael Stevens.
The novel isn't so much a straight-forward crime-solving mystery than it is a story of coping with trauma and moving on with life - probably because Toby Neal is a mental health therapist by profession. This doesn't really detract from the crime-solving part of it; instead, it seems to add layers to the work.
One of the things that irritated me about the novel was that there seemed to be too many plot points. It felt as if there were too many things going on at once, that the reader is overwhelmed by things that are not what it seems and when you think you finally know what it is, it's not again. That really struck me somewhere towards the end of the story when they had found the murderer.... but there was like another 30 minutes reading time to go. What?!
(Add to that fact the point that the resolution for the second ending felt quite weak...)
To balance that out, one of the things I liked about Blood Orchids is the way Neal weaves in the local Hawaiian pidgin into the dialogue. In some ways it makes it feel a little more natural, interspersed as it is at strategic times. In other books, there are times when doing this makes it awkward and difficult to read, but there's nothing forced or overdone in Blood Orchids.
I've been following Toby Neal on Twitter, Instagram and her blog (via Triberr) for a while now before getting round to reading her book - and I am glad that I did.
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