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A racist murder. Territorial surf gangs. A drug lord peddling death.
When a white girl is found dead on the beach with a racial slur scrawled on her back, private investigator Raja Williams and his partner, Vinny Moore, land in Hawaii to help the young Native Hawaiian accused of her brutal murder.
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING
“Never disappointing , as usual entertaining and hard to put down. And always leaves you feeling better at the end.“
“Awesomely good and fast paced reading! As usual, Raja and Vinny are put to the test.“
“Raja and Vinny at their best. Another great suspense-filled mystery thriller for Raja and Vinny! Great background info concerning the native Hawaiians and Hawaii.”
John had just dragged the last two pieces of luggage into the master bedroom and dropped them on the floor when the boys started in.
“We’re ready for the beach, Dad,” said Devon, his oldest at ten.
“Yeah, we’re ready, Dad,” said Randy the eight-year-old, copying his older brother as usual.
John turned and saw that both boys had already dug into their suitcase and found the bathing suits that were packed there.
“We want to go surfing,” said Devon.
“I told you boys that this is Hawaii, and the waves are big. This is not a place for young boys to go surfing.”
“Aw, come on, Dad,” said Devon. “We went surfing at home.”
“What you did was ride a bodyboard on the lake. There’s a big difference between that and surfing the ocean here on Oahu.”
“We can do it, Dad. We’re tough. You said we were,” said Devon.
“Let’s go ask Mom,” said Randy. He was the wily one of the two, and had already become an expert at divide and conquer. The two boys ran off. John shook his head. They were two of the toughest kids he had ever seen, but there was no way he was going to let them out into the surf.
John Warner and his wife Cindy lived with their two sons in Kansas City, Missouri, where he was a mid-level accountant at a major firm. They had a great life, a great home, and as far as John could tell, Cindy was really happy. The two had met when John was at a financial planning conference in Los Angeles where Cindy grew up. They got married soon after she found out she was pregnant with Devon. That first year had been challenging for Cindy. She loved the beach and when John brought her to Kansas City she was like a fish out of water. If there was any regret he had it was that he hadn’t been able to give her the one thing she had always wanted, a honeymoon in Hawaii. Their plans were scuttled when minor complications during the early pregnancy required Cindy to stay off her feet for a couple of months. After that the young boys had taken precedence and she had settled into raising a family.
This year was their tenth anniversary and John had decided to pull out all the stops and give Cindy the honeymoon she deserved. John had two weeks off, and on a Friday they had taken a redeye flight out of Kansas City International. John was determined to spend every minute of those two weeks on the island. It was still dark when they picked up the rental car and drove to the resort condo John had rented for their vacation. He and Cindy had fought over where they would stay on Oahu. John wanted to be at the beach where the pros surfed the famous Banzai Pipeline. It was one of the most dangerous surfing spots in the world, and Cindy had argued against it because of the boys. She had won out, and they drove to Turtle Bay Resort a few miles up the coast. It was a much more family-friendly resort where they had snorkeling and plenty of things for the kids to do.
John hadn’t slept on the flight. A last minute tax extension filing from a client had kept him working late, forcing him to go directly from the office to Kansas City International still wearing his work clothes. The stopover at LAX had added another hour to the total flight time. All he wanted to do was take a hot shower and a nap, but he knew that wasn’t going to happen. The sun was up and the boys were raring to go. Right on cue, Cindy walked into the bedroom.
“The boys want to go to the beach, John.”
“I know, but we’ll have plenty of time for that. There’s a huge pond behind the building with a sand beach and everything. Maybe you could take them out there for now.”
“I’ve got to get us unpacked and figure out what we are going to eat,” said Cindy.
“I don’t want no stinking pond,” said Randy. “I want to see the ocean.”
“You said we would swim in the ocean, Dad,” said Devon.
“Yeah, you said,” said Randy. “I never saw the ocean close up.”
John knew the boys were not going to stop until they had their feet in the salt water. Growing up in Kansas City neither of them had seen the ocean. “All right. But get your flip-flops. There might be sharp sea shells out on the beach.”
“Sea shells,” said Randy, his eyes lighting up. “Oh boy.” The boys ran back to their room.
Cindy smiled at John and her eyes twinkled as she put her arms around John’s neck. “Thanks, my sweet love. And thanks for taking me to Hawaii. Tonight when the boys are asleep, I’ll be sure to show you my appreciation.” She gave him a big kiss as a promise of things to come. “While you guys are out, I’m going to find out where we can eat. The boys will be hungry.”
“So is their dad,” said John, pulling Cindy closer. “It’s a date.”
John unzipped one of the bags and rooted around until he found a pair of shorts, a Chicago Bulls T-shirt and his flip-flops. The boys were lined up at the door like horses at the starting gate by the time John had changed.
“Okay. We are going to have some rules while we are here, boys, to ensure you have a good time.”
“We’ll follow the rules,” said Devon. “I’ll make sure Randy does. Let’s go.”
“You don’t even know what they are yet,” said John.
“Listen to what your mother tells you and don’t give her a hard time,” said Devon.
“Look both ways before crossing the street,” said Randy.
John smiled. It appeared that the boys weren’t as deaf as they pretended to be after all.
“Those are good ones, and they apply here as well. But I’m talking about special rules for the beach. First of all, you can have fun and run around, but make sure you stay where I can see you. How will you know where that is?”
“It’s where we can see you,” said Randy.
“Good job. Second, don’t ever go into the water unless me or mom is right there with you. Okay?”
“Okay,” said the boys.
“All right, then. Let’s go to the beach.”
Ten seconds later the boys were standing at the elevator pressing the button repeatedly. John followed, resisting saying anything. It was better to pick the important battles. Cindy walked out into the hallway.
“You better put some of this on,” she said, holding out the tube of sunscreen. “You know how fast you burn.” It was true, John was as white as a sheet. Having grown up in Kansas City he had only seen the beach from a distance, and long hours at the office meant he rarely saw the midday sun. Cindy, on the other hand, California girl that she was, always managed to have a nice tan.
“And put a little on the boys’ noses.”
“Come on, Dad, the elevator’s here,” said Devon.
Once the doors opened on the lobby, the two boys shot out like cannonballs and were ready to roll out the door.
Devon looked back and grabbed Randy’s shirt.
“Hey, let me go,” said Randy, wriggling unsuccessfully to get free.
“Wait for Dad,” said Devon. The boys stood by the door until John got there.
“That was good, Devon,” said John. “You’re in charge of your brother on the beach.”
John looked at the narrow strip of sand in front of the hotel and had an idea. “Come on, boys. We’re going to take a little ride. They piled into the rental car and John drove three miles south along the water. The boys oohed and aahed as they spotted surfers out in the water. John stopped at Sunset Beach. It wasn’t the Banzai Pipeline but it was as close as he could get without violating Cindy’s mandate. He parked and after dabbing sunscreen on the boys’ noses, John turned them loose. John rubbed sunscreen on his face, neck and arms as well as his bare calves. The boys ran straight to the water, darting back and forth with each wave as it washed onto the beach. Next the boys ran around in the dry sand until Devon pushed Randy down and then they started wrestling.
“Okay, rule number three,” said John. “No pushing your brother down. You two can have fun without beating the crap out of each other.”
“All right,” said Devon.
“He started it,” said Randy.
John walked to the water’s edge. “You can go in the water if you want, but only knee-deep for now. The ocean is a lot different than the lake. When the waves come in they can knock you over. And when they go back out they can pull you out. You have to get used to it.”
The boys ran out and splashed around a bit. After running into and out of the water a dozen times Devon was getting bored. He stopped and looked down the shoreline. There was a large cove with a wider stretch of beach a few hundred yards from where they were playing and where more people were gathered. A couple of kids were riding waves on boogie boards. “Let’s go down there,” said Devon. The two boys started running along the water’s edge toward the cove. John followed, keeping them in sight until they reached the start of the cove and disappeared behind a group of palm bushes. John whistled loudly and the two boys popped out where he could see them. He made a motion with his fingers back and forth from his eyes to the boys, and Devon did it back, nodding. Randy pushed Devon down and turned, racing back into the vegetation with Devon in pursuit.
John shook his head and strolled toward them, almost reaching the spot he had last seen them when he heard a high pitched scream he recognized as Randy’s. John broke into a run and followed the sound.
The two boys were standing on a dune and neither appeared hurt.
“I told you not to touch it,” said Devon.
“Touch what?” said John. Devon pointed to a gully behind the dune. John stepped up on the dune and looked down. The naked body of a young woman lay face down in the sand.
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