Like a visit to a tropical island, everything is slower and that can be frustrating but the scenery is fascinating.
The core theme of this bo..Show More »ok is the clash and contrast between the slow, connected Samoan life style and the fast, opportunistic paalangi (American) ways.
Our protagonist embodies this clash. He is a Samoan who grew up in San Francisco and was a policeman there. He left the high-speed life of an American city to go back to the laid-back Samoan style where having a beer with a suspect at a beach bar seems not only acceptable but also the sensible thing to do.
The story revolves around incidents that involve both cultures and, inevitably, the criminal faultlines where the cultures collide. It is a solid story reasonably well told but a loose end here and an abrupt close there make it only a three out of five for the story.
I can see how others might find it slow. If all you are looking for is a mystery or thriller it is slow. But I enjoyed the cultural tour, it's details and its tone, so I never minded the story running on island time.
While the book stands alone, I'd recommend reading the first story before this one to get a sense of Apelu's world. Frankly, the cultural notes, and s..Show More »cenery description, carry the story, rather than the plot. Moreover, I was never really fond of Apelu himself, who seemed rather self-congratulatory about being such a decent, loyal guy; I found myself chuckling as he's called out on that near the end. In the previous story, he relied on help from a savvy female (sidekick) to solve the crime; I was sorry that the journalist from that one doesn't appear here, but a mysterious Samoan-speaking Caucasian widow does the job well.
Phil Gigante's audio narration fits well for the series.
I've seen reviews that state this one can be read as a stand-alone, which is probably true, but I'd still read the others first. Phil Gigante is a gre..Show More »at fit as narrator for the series.
As for the story here, frankly I found the first third or so rather boring, with Apelu moping around on a remote island alone, grieving for his young daughter who'd died on cancer; he blames himself for not having insisted she be treated earlier. The wife and kids are in Western Samoa with her family, except for the older boy, Senele, who comes to live with Apelu later in the story. Anyway ... once one of the pahlonghi (white American) associated with the construction crew is murdered, the action picks up, or at least we have something to go on from there. The ending is quite rushed, almost tacked on, so I didn't really get why the victims were killed specifically?
The book filled time, but if I had to describe it in a single word: grim. Between Apelu's morbid moping, and the nasty characters, it was tough to actually like reading this one. I will give Enright credit for the way he so thoroughly coveys a sense of place and culture. On to the next installment, which just came out ... though probably not right away.
I've read all four books (no real spoiler that one's intended as a series conclusion), and while I don't recall the details of the other three specifi..Show More »cally, I retain an impression that the first two were strong on plot and setting, while the third was weaker, focusing on Apelu as a character. This one had a suspenseful plot, with a denouement I didn't see coming at all, although I was disappointed that setting seemed to play less of a part as the story went on. Doctor Laura was a terrific complement to Apelu as a secondary investigator, along with Officer Frost (who becomes a protégé of his). His girlfriend, Avelisa, seemed rather ... unstable, shall we say; however, she's quite the change from his estranged, religious, frankly frumpy wife. I wasn't real thrilled with the plot angle regarding their baby, especially the graphic details of her conception! Strange thing is that even though the pregnancy and events afterward are covered, it didn't feel as though two years had passed - no jumping around as such.
Series recommend for its unique Samoan background, and overall plotting. Phil Gigante's narration is one of those he-was-made-to-read-this fits!