3 out of 4 stars
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With approximately $200 million devoted to a real estate development plan in Kauai, the investment partners have a lot to lose if Peter Roosevelt succeeds in stopping the project for the preservation of Hawaii’s rich and exotic environment. When Roosevelt is found dead in his home, suspicions arise. The state is convinced this is an open and shut case: the evidence points to the jealous act of a neighbor.
Honolulu’s top criminal defense attorney, Pancho McMartin, has his work cut out proving Wayson Takei’s innocence. Even after discovering suspicious activity among the investors of the Kauai project, evidence strongly suggests that Takei is guilty: his gun is the murder weapon, and he has no alibi to clear his name. Lies and deception plague the proceedings, and Pancho and his team are running out of time to save their client from life in prison.
Tropical Deception is the latest Pancho McMartin legal thriller by David Myles Robinson. This fourth novel featuring the title character can be read as a standalone and is divided into 64 short chapters that keep the book moving along at a steady pace. The book is primarily written from Pancho’s first-person POV, while the remaining chapters switch to the third-person POV.
The author, being a graduate of law school and former native of Hawaii, clearly uses his experience as a law practitioner to keep the case realistic and the dialogue lightly-sprinkled with Hawaiian vocabulary and locales. Robinson also keeps the legal jargon realistic, yet easy to understand as the case proceeds and evidence is gathered. I enjoyed being able to jump right into the book with the helpful character bios and recaps incorporated into the early chapters. From there, we continue right into Pancho’s current case, which flows smoothly through Robinson’s captivating writing.
I loved the parallel plot lines that followed Pancho’s progress on the case and the background movements of the suspicious characters. The author would show us an exciting development on Pancho’s end and then would show the next move from the characters that had something to hide. In this manner, the book remained full of suspense as the evidence began to stack up, while substantial proof remained just out of reach.
The suspense built significantly as the case was presented to the jury. The recap of the gathered information was helpful but a bit tedious because it included a full line-by-line reiteration of the interviews that had been conducted earlier throughout the book. I was also disappointed with how rapidly the end came about after a suspenseful buildup. There was a conclusive ending, and loose ends were tied up, but they felt shallow and underdeveloped compared to the rest of the book.
For these reasons, I decided to give the book a 3 out of 4. I would gladly raise the rating to a full four stars if the ending had not felt so abrupt and had been fully developed. Still, I believe the book would be an excellent read for those who enjoy legal thrillers. The book does contain non-borderline swearing and low-erotic sex and allusions, which makes it a good read for an adult audience, but may not be a good fit for younger or sensitive readers. The book is well-edited, and I found very few errors.
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