Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis
What does a human femur and two unsolved murders have in common? Emily “Em” Johnson, the protagonist in Jill Marie Landis’ Mai Tai One On (Bell Bridge Books, July 2011) is determined to find out.
Em, a mainland transplant to Hawaii’s lush North Shore, helps run the Tiki Goddess, her Uncle Louie Marshall’s bar. Em and the Tiki Goddess’ patrons are readying themselves for a luau when the body of Louie’s neighbor and nemesis, Harold Otanami, is found smoldering in the luau pit. Enter Roland Sharpe, the handsome no-nonsense detective assigned to investigate Harold’s murder. Roland initially zeroes in on Sophie Chin, Em’s tattooed and pierced bartender with a checkered past. Especially after he discovers Sophie argued with Harold the day he was murdered. However, Roland’s list of suspects grows to include Louie and Em when all three are present the night the body of flamboyant Las Vegas entertainer Fernando is discovered floating in a koi-filled stream during a housewarming celebration the Tiki Goddess was hired to cater. Em sets out to prove their innocence but places herself in danger when her investigating unearths a human bone hidden in Harold’s garage.
Mai Tai One On, the first novel in Landis’ “The Tiki Goddess Series”, is an easy, breezy murder mystery that does not take itself too seriously. The characters, including a group of misfit hula dancers, are fully developed and often bring comic relief as the clues to the murderer’s identity come to light. The novel is a slim (228 pages) but entertaining tome with enough twists and turns to keep you interested until the end. For those accustomed to reading murder mysteries, the identity of the killer and motives behind the killing will not be that hard to figure out. Landis, a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and winner, makes up for the lack in true suspense with descriptive storytelling.
If you’re looking for a light-hearted murder mystery, then consider reading Mai Tai On One today. You won’t be disappointed.