reviewed from e-reader
A unique story, not easily categorized. Neither completely cozy nor completely hard-boiled, but a passionate tale of a child with a stolen childhood who is struggling to be a strong woman in the worst of circumstances. That said, I really enjoyed the book for all its changes in Lei's life. Taking place in Hawaii, Lei is a police officer seeking a better position to allow her to do the job she knows she can do...if only her past horrors would leave her mind alone.
A woman who is obviously full of fun when she is not feeling overwhelmed, part of her future with the police relies on her appointments with a psychiatrist. I feel they are a pretty good match, both unusual but able to recognize the whole person each is. I enjoyed their meetings. Then there is romance, a 'will she won't she' type of thing due to her terrorized past. It's a little confusing as to who has had the most horrific past. I think my favourite character is Lei's rottweiler, super guard dog. In fact, I really liked the early characters in the book. On the other hand, working in crime, Lei finds herself at the mercy of stalkers, murderers and pedophiles, if not related to her past, she finds them in her cases, and eventually in her present.
The real suspense begins about the middle of the story after the preset of the book. Scenes from her past overlap current scenes, the connection she could and should have with Stephens is overwhelmed by her fears, he fears for her life with the chances she takes, but he seems to understand why she takes them. I really liked this, the first in the Lei Crime series, with so much going on, it is interesting what I did manage to glean from the story. Different, but in a pretty good way. Past history in Lei's life plays a role of its own, but she appears to be overcoming much of the past by the end and looking forward to a better future. I think Toby Neal is onto a solid series and look forward to more.