2 out of 4 stars
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Death at Diamond Head by Kristine Frost is the fourth novel in the Suzette Bishop mystery series. Ms. Bishop is a partner in a small insurance consulting business and an experienced claims investigator. She works hard to make sure clients receive the insurance they are owed. At times, this intrepid investigator gets involved in more serious investigations that come up in the lives of people she knows. Suzette is also on a life-long quest to learn more about her biological family.
This novel begins with Suzette getting to know her newly found sister, Rachel. The two are invited to spend some time at a friend’s house in Hawaii, away from the busyness of the world. The hope is that they will have a chance to get to know each other better. Unfortunately, Rachel seems to be only superficially friendly and is hiding a dangerous secret. In the midst of the familial turmoil, Suzette receives a desperate plea to help with the case of a kidnapped girl. The child is being used as a pawn by her criminal father.
The rescue mission is nicely nestled within the greater mystery of Rachel’s hidden troubles and Suzette’s series-long quest to learn more about her past. This book can be easily read as a standalone novel. Enough details about previous mysteries and Suzette’s past are provided to peak the reader’s interest in earlier books, and enable them to feel comfortable starting with this fourth novel. Kristine Frost is not a fan of profanity; this is a clean novel. There were only general references to sex, and “crap” was the strongest word I found. There were some violent scenes, and some violent acts were described.
Admirably, the character of Suzette was very strong, intelligent and caring. Even after overcoming many difficult challenges in her life, she continues to work towards finding the good in people. The internal mystery was well done, fast-paced and intense. All of the characters involved were developed clearly enough to get a good feel for the scenario and the people in it. The scenes were described in good detail and easy to imagine. I could easily envision the home of Suzette’s friend in Hawaii, the visit near an active volcano and the mansion of the kidnapper. The scenarios are fairly realistic, and the characters generally made sense. Suzette’s back story was handled well.
Unfortunately, there were numerous typos and minor errors in this novel. Even though they were often simple double or missing words, the flow of reading was tripped up at times. There were also some confusing inconsistencies with the emotions of a few of the characters. The main police officer seemed to like Rachel, hate her and then declare his love for this challenging woman within a matter of days. The same type of inconsistency happened between Suzette and Rachel. In one scene, Suzette starts off being friendly with her sister and then, after gaining her trust, calls her a liar who she can never believe again. It was rather abrupt and not clearly explained.
I was also rather surprised by how torn Suzette was between assisting her grown sister and coming to the aid of an innocent child. The casual mention of sex between grown men and minors was also disappointing. While we are all aware of the issue, it was the lack of horror and disgust from the more upstanding characters that was disappointing. Aside from a few inconsistent characters, I also found the end of the book to be quite puzzling. The rescue mission came to a clear conclusion. However, many of the loose ends related to Suzette’s family’s mystery were not tied up. Everyone just went on their way with a significant amount of information missing and a great deal left up in the air. While this series has a continuous overarching storyline, it felt like too much was left unknown.
I rate Death at Diamond Head by Kristine Frost 2 out of 4 stars. The mysteries and the main characters are quite good. However, the number of errors, the loose ends and the few inconsistencies gave me cause for the lower rating. Overall, it was an enjoyable book that would be even better with some serious editing. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy clean, fast-paced mysteries with likeable characters. If typos drive you crazy, it would be best to skip this one until further editing is done.
Death at DiamondHead
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