Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

Blood Orchids by Toby Neal
Publish Date: November 27, 2011
Fiction, Suspense, Crime, Detective/Police Novel
A Lei Crime Novel

My Review:
I love being surprised by books.  While I was intrigued by the blurb of this book and accepted it for review, you never know what you are getting.  What I got from Blood Orchids was a thoroughly mesmerizing book based in Hawaii, which I hardly ever read about and a culture that was new to me.  And not only did I get this new culture and setting, but I read about some amazing characters and a plot that kept me flipping the pages to see what would happen next.

The character of Lei Texeira rings very true.  She is a woman with a past and some problems to work through.  She is a tough woman cop who wants to make things right in her town of Hilo and when two girls show up murdered, it feels personal and she will stop at nothing to find the killer and bring him to justice.  Though Lei is just a beat cop, through her skills she ends up involved in the investigation.  She also ends up with a stalker which brings her closer to lead detective Michael Stephens, who also has a past that he is dealing with.  I liked Michael as much as Lei and I was cheering for them as a couple through the whole book.  I like how Ms. Neal handles them and I won't give anything more away, you need to read the book to find out.  Suffice it to say, the book has a little bit of romance to take the edge off the hard suspense vibe going through the majority of the book.

The suspense is gripping.  The plot moves along great.  As the detectives, Lei and her partner plow through the investigation, things don't just fall into place.  They have to work for the answers and it takes time.  This isn't a CSI episode where the DNA just happens to be there and things are wrapped up quickly.  I think Ms. Neal paced this well to keep the reader turning pages and engaged in the book.  I wanted to know who was behind the murders, rapes and kidnappings.  I also wanted to know who was stalking Lei.  Was it the murderer?  Or one of the other people that Ms. Neal puts forth?  It's definitely a guessing game and I have to say I guessed wrong.  So well done Ms. Neal!

So, in summary, Blood Orchids is an amazing debut effort.  It's tough, it's edgy, but it has some romance as well.  It kept me guessing, it kept me turning pages.  It has me anxious to read more about Lei.  She's an intriguing character and I want to see more of her and from the note at the end it looks like there are several more books involving Lei planned so I am in luck.  But don't worry, everything is tied up nicely at the end of Blood Orchids so you aren't left wanting for the next book, I just want one to see more of Lei.  Blood Orchids is interesting, fresh and a great read.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

About the Book:
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.

About the Author (from her website): 
Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age 5 and has been published in magazines and won several writing contests. 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.”

She enjoys many outdoor sports including bodyboarding, scuba diving, beach walking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Hawaii with her family and dogs.

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.


FTC Information: I received this book from the author for an honest review.  


Anonymous said...

One of my secret favorite genres is crime fiction. This seems like a book I'd like to try.

Nerd Girls at Books to the Sky

Toby Neal said...

Dear Crystal,
Thanks so much for the thorough and in depth review. I'm so grateful for reviewers who are passionate about books and dig beneath the surface to share what they find with other readers. Much mahalos, as we say in Hawaii!
Toby Neal

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