Murder of the Hula Dancers is the third book in the popular Leila Kahana series of Maui mystery and suspense novels, following Murder in Maui and Murder on Kaanapali Beach, by best-selling crime writer R. Barri Flowers.
Maui County homicide detective and composite sketch artist Leila Kahana and her partner Detective Jonny Chung investigate the murders of beautiful hula dancers by a serial killer dubbed, "The Hula Killer." Each victim was stabbed to death. As they chase leads and suspects, Leila starts to believe that Chung might be a dirty cop. But should she act on her suspicions and report it to her boss and former lover, Lieutenant Blake Seymour?
Meanwhile, Leila is in the midst of a new relationship with handsome restaurateur Maxwell Kishimoto. When he asks her to marry him, she's conflicted due to her conservative upbringing and independence.
Also in the Homicide Unit, Detectives Trent Ferguson and Rachel Lancaster investigate the murder of a woman whose charred corpse was found in a vehicle along a deserted road. Could solving one case help solve the other? Or be an impediment?
As the Hula Killer continues to evade capture with the body count rising, Leila volunteers to go undercover as a hula dancer to try and flush out the murderer. But is the cunning killer one step ahead of them? Is Leila putting her life at risk to become another one of his victims?
I really liked this book. I found the introduction on hula dancing fascinating. I hadn't realized that the movements were so symbolic. And I really have admired Leila Kahana's character - she's smart, sexy, confident, etc. - though I have to admit (without going into too much detail and giving away spoilers) that I was disappointed in her actions regarding Seymour. Other than that, the story is really well-written, the development of the mystery was well-paced, and all the Hawaiian cultural insights were really interesting. This is the third book I've read in this series, and I've enjoyed them all. I don't think its necessary to read the books in order to enjoy them, but you definitely get a better understanding of the different characters, relationships, and history if you do. I listened to the Audible audio edition narrated by Jane Boyer. I really like her narration. She has a great voice - its a little lower and she's able to pull off both male and female characters very well. I highly recommend this series if you like reading about Hawaii, mysteries, or crime novels. I can't wait for the next one in the series.
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