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BOOK REVIEW: FIRE PRAYER
BY DEBORAH TURRELL ATKINSON

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The Hawaiian island of Molokai is off the traditional beaten path for most tourists to the islands. The permanent residents there have struggled hard to maintain the traditional rural ambience, and have lobbied long and vigorously to prevent megabucks developers from ruining what islanders hold dear.

Honolulu attorney Storm Kayama has returned to Molokai for a visit, accompanying her aunt and uncle on a trip to look at potential new horses for their ranch. Storm’s law partner and significant other is also on the trip – investigating a negligence claim against one of the islands eco-touring companies.

Several local residents were childhood friends of Storm’s and as she begins to re-establish friendships, she gets drawn into a whirl of suspicion, jealousy, and unexpected deaths.

The title refers to a Hawaiian legend of a vicious curse – that through appeals to a local deity, a person could start a fire from a remote distance. A few years before the action of FIRE PRAYER begins, a mysterious fire claimed several lives, and Storm realizes that no one in the circle of friends on the island is certain how the fire started, and each has reason to suspect several of the others.

Trail rides to test the mettle of the newly acquired horses, the remote reaches of the island attractions, the hit and miss ability to stay in touch via cell phone, a missing teenager newly diagnosed with brittle childhood diabetes, the continuing tension between tradition and modern development, and the lurking danger of a killer hiding in plain sight all combine for a tense, engrossing read.

Since Atkinson lives in the islands, she has the ability to provide local insight into a part of America which remains unfamiliar to most of the rest of us. She includes tempting descriptions of local specialties for breakfast and for snacks, always an extra treat for the reader!

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