When Valerie Sabatino arrives at his home on Oahu looking for help in finding her nephew, the last thing Harry Pines wants is missing-persons action. There are two reasons why Harry's not the kind of guy who knocks on doors with his hat in his hand looking for business, and the other one is he doesn't wear a hat.
But when he learns the missing nephew is the son of his long-ago cellmate, he has no choice but to strap it on. Helping friends is how Harry pays back. It also doesn't hurt that Valerie is the kind of woman who could bring drool to a statue's chin.
In An Ice Cold Paradise Harry Pines and his handy band of friends in Chicago and Hawaii peel back the curtain on a world of runaway girls turned into hookers and of soldiers paying off their gambling debts by stealing firearms. The stolen goods are used to fuel the mean little army of a loony Mormon Fundamentalist named Orrin Massey who thinks he's "The One Mighty and Strong" right out of the original Mormon playbook.
Before it ends, Harry has fallen hard for Valerie and doesn't take kindly to it when Massey grabs her for one of his wives. Harry can bring a lot of pain when he's pushed and he can put together a small army of his own. And when he settles a score, the degree of difficulty makes it that much harder.
Harry Pines is the enormously entertaining creation of Terry Holland, who arrives here walking in the footsteps of Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, MacDonald, and Parker.
Holland's uneven debut, the first in a series, introduces ex-con turned PI Harry Pines. A larger-than-life figure, Pines has benefited from a series of lucky breaks after his release from prison, including winning enough money at the horse track to buy a house in the town of Kailua on Oahu. Valerie Sabatino, a gorgeous and fabulously wealthy attorney, asks Pines for help tracking down her missing nephew, Danny MacGillicuddy, whose father was Pines's former cellmate. MacGillicuddy, a soldier stationed on the island, has gone AWOL under circumstances that make his aunt fear the worst. After this intriguing set-up, Pines gets on the trail of some violent Mormon fundamentalists but soon finds himself in stock situations involving fire fights and hostage-taking. An abrupt ending reminiscent of Diamonds Are Forever may leave some readers scratching their heads. Still, Holland's prose is good enough to suggest he can deliver more nuanced characters and a less predictable plot in the sequel.